SCHOOL FACILITIES PLAN
Janey Proposes Different Closings
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
D.C. school system officials indicated last night that they are rethinking key parts of a month-old facilities plan, seeking to reverse a few closure proposals and possibly to dramatically quicken the pace of school renovations.
In September, Superintendent Clifford B. Janey presented to the Board of Education a master facilities plan outlining a 15-year schedule for remodeling more than 100 schools and closing and consolidating 19 others. Last night, he said he is working to reduce the construction schedule to seven or 10 years.
Under the original proposal, Janey sought to close Brookland Elementary School in Northeast, moving students to Bunker Hill Elementary, also in Northeast.
But Brookland parents protested, saying their school is the only one in Ward 5 that offers a comprehensive bilingual program. They also denounced the closing of a school with a stable and experienced faculty, saying its teachers have been in the building an average of 15 years.
Last night, Janey essentially reversed the plan for those schools. He now wants to renovate Bunker Hill beginning in 2008, moving the work up seven years. He proposed closing Bunker Hill during the renovation and relocating students to Brookland, which would remain open. After the new Bunker Hill building is completed, Brookland would close.
"We would renovate Bunker Hill earlier in the process so the Brookland and Bunker Hill community can move into the new school earlier," Cornell S. Brown, executive director of the facilities department, told the school board.
The board is expected to vote on the revisions and the rest of the 1,000-page proposal by the end of December.
But now parents at both schools are unhappy.
"I'm satisfied Brookland will not be closed immediately but dissatisfied Bunker Hill will close immediately," Angela Leach, a member of the Brookland PTA, said in an interview. "We need a moratorium on all school closings," she added, until the new mayor and as many as five newly elected and mayorally appointed board members take office in January.
Toni Hughes, president of the Bunker Hill PTA, said in an interview that she is upset about the prospect of Bunker Hill students going to Brookland because it is an "open space" school without walls between classrooms.
Moreover, Hughes said, Bunker Hill does not need immediate renovation because it has been refurbished with new windows, a new library and a new playground in the past two years. "We would rather wait our turn," she said.
Brown also proposed not only to reverse the proposed closures of two special education schools, Mamie D. Lee in Northeast and Sharpe Health School in Northwest, but also to open two similar schools elsewhere in the city.