Schools Targeted For Closure
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) and Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee have proposed to close 23 underenrolled public schools, all but three this summer. The proposal has generated numerous complaints from parents who will voice their objections at a series of hearings this week and from council members who say they were excluded from Fenty's decision-making process. No schools in Ward 3 are affected, and Ward 5 has the most proposed closings.
Built in 1973, when the open-space classroom design was all the craze, Bruce-Monroe sits on Georgia Avenue NW. More than two-thirds of the 307 students are from low-income households, and 62 percent are Hispanic. The school has a dual-language program for pre-kindergarten to first grade. Sixty percent of the students come from outside the neighborhood. Principal Marta Palacios has been praised for knitting a diverse community into a strong school where 41 percent of students passed a standardized test in reading and 40 percent passed a test in math, exceeding benchmarks.
Bruce-Monroe's enrollment declined by less than the median enrollment loss between 2002 and 2006, but Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee recommended closure in part because of "the size and condition of the building."
Dozens of angry parents and students held up protest signs at a community meeting last year when Rhee announced the school was closing. The proposal calls for students to attend nearby Park View at 3560 Warder St. NW. About 89 percent of its 162 students are African American.
Built in 1977, the school has a close relationship with Howard University, whose students provide tutoring. This was one of the "buff-and-scrub" schools spruced up last summer. It needs repairs to two classrooms damaged by water. Its students are 99 percent black and 85 percent low-income. Enrollment dropped 35 percent between 2002 and 2006, the last year for which there are final numbers. On last year's standardized tests, 35 percent of students were proficient in reading, and 21 percent were proficient in math.
Students would go to one of four other elementary schools: Cleveland, 1825 Eighth St. NW; Montgomery, 421 P St. NW; Seaton, 1503 10th St. NW; or Emery, 1720 First St. NE.
Adjacent to the Garfield Terrace public housing complex, the school has a capacity for 428 students, but 169 are enrolled. Meyer experienced a 49 percent enrollment decline between 2002 and 2006. Garfield Terrace parents told the chancellor they didn't want their children walking a greater distance to school. Several teachers have boasted that the academic program is strong. Students would go to Tubman Elementary, 3101 13th St. NW; Bruce-Monroe, 3012 Georgia Ave. NW (temporarily); Marie Reed Learning Center, 2200 Champlain St. NW; or H.D. Cooke Elementary, which is temporarily at 300 Bryant St. NW.