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Proposed School Closings in D.C.

From the D.C. Public School System and Washington Post Staff Writer Debbi Wilgoren
The Washington Post
Thursday, May 1, 1997

School Closings by Ward

The D.C. school administration recommended a list of 16 schools that would be closed at the end of this year in each of the city's eight political wards. Eleven will be closed, five were saved, and two more that would be razed and rebuilt. Here you can get a list of school closings by ward, with maps of the schools and the reasons they will be closed.

See the list of schools in Ward 1 | Ward 2 | Ward 3 | Ward 4 | Ward 5 | Ward 6 | Ward 7 | Ward 8

Ward 1

TO BE CLOSED

School: Harrison Elementary
Location: 2100 13th St. NW
Students: 206
Capacity: 284
Proposed Use: Sale, lease or joint venture; estimated revenue: $750,000
Voting to close Harrison: Becton, Cooper, Gallagher, Hall, Kruvant, MacLaury.
Voting to keep Harrison open: Howard, Reeves, Washington.

Harrison serves fourth- and fifth-graders who attended Cleveland or Meyer elementaries for pre-kindergarten through third grade.

After it is closed, students will remain at Cleveland or Meyer through fourth grade, and the current fourth- and fifth-graders at Harrison will go on to nearby Garnett-Patterson Middle School as fifth- and sixth-graders.

Until now, Garnett-Patterson has started in the sixth grade.

The closure report says there are 192 empty seats at Cleveland and Meyer. But that number is based on their original capacities, rather than the revised, smaller figures the school system used in analyzing other schools proposed for closure.

Emory W. Washington III, co-president of Harrison's PTA, speculates that school officials want to sell or lease Harrison to developers who would be interested in the property because it is on the new Metro line.

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TO BE CLOSED

School: Lewis Elementary
Location: 300 Bryant St. NW
Students: 267
Capacity: 424
Proposed Use: Sale, lease or joint venture; estimated revenue: $1,350,000
Voting to close Lewis: Becton, Cooper, Gallagher, Hall, Kruvant, MacLaury.
Voting to keep Lewis open: Howard, Reeves, Washington.

Students will attend Gage-Eckington or Emery Elementary School; all students are eligible for either.

School officials expect strong profits -- $1.35 million -- from selling or leasing 35-year-old Lewis, which sits just behind the Howard University campus and is more than one-third empty.

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Ward 2

TO BE CLOSED

School: Stevens Elementary
Location: 1050 21st St. NW
Students: 321
Capacity: 340
Proposed Use: Sale, lease or joint venture; estimated revenue: $21,434,000; developer would be required to build a 250-seat school on the site; Stevens would operate through 1997-98 due to lengthy approval process; developer would be asked to provide "swing space" for students during construction phase.

The vote to close 129-year-old Stevens, on prime downtown real estate, is really a vote to rebuild it.

School officials want to sell the historic schoolhouse to a developer who would agree to build a smaller school on the same site as part of a moneymaking office building or other project. Such a deal could bring millions into school coffers, although independent analysts have said the school system's $21.4 million price estimate is too optimistic.

The developer also could be required to provide space for Stevens to operate while the new site is developed. The school will not be closed until a deal with a developer has already been made.

The white brick school was the first in the District for the children of freed slaves. Today, it serves mostly children who live elsewhere in the city but are dropped off by parents who work downtown. Test scores generally are high.

The proposal to rebuild the school for only 250 students has sparked protests from parents and alumni concerned about limiting the school's enrollment as well as erasing its poignant past.

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Ward 3

TO STAY OPEN

School: Hearst Elementary
Location: 3950 37th St. NW
Students: 165
Capacity: 164
Proposed Use: Sale, lease or joint venture; estimated revenue: $1,890,000
Voting to close Hearst: Becton, Cooper, Kruvant, Washington.
Voting to keep Hearst open: Gallagher, Hall, Howard, MacLaury, Reeves.

Parents from across the city have been known to camp out overnight to secure a place for their children at 65-year-old Hearst, which serves a diverse population of pre-kindergarten through third-grade children whose test scores are among the highest in the District and in the top 20 percent nationwide.

The closure proposal estimated that selling Hearst could bring $1.89 million into school system coffers. But D.C. Council member Kathy Patterson (Ward 3) says that amount could have been raised only by selling playground and other land adjacent to the school -- property that belongs to the National Park Service, not the city.

School officials defended their choice of Hearst -- the only school targeted for closing in affluent Ward 3 -- by saying that most students there come from elsewhere in the city. They planned to move Hearst's Early Childhood Education Model program to Whittier Elementary School in Ward 4.

But parents said they don't want to trade a proven program for one not yet established. And those who for years have commuted up to 90 minutes each way by public transportation to bring their children to Hearst said they would rather continue that trek than return to the neighborhood schools they spurned.

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Ward 4

TO BE CLOSED

School: Keene Elementary
Location: 33 Riggs Rd. NE
Students: 365
Capacity: 392
Proposed Use: Sale, lease or joint venture; estimated revenue: $1,050,000
Voting to close Keene: Becton, Cooper, Gallagher, Hall, Kruvant, MacLaury, Washington.
Voting to keep Keene open: Howard, Reeves.

Students from Keene will attend Rudolph Elementary School (if pre-kindergarten to fourth grade); Barnard Elementary School (fifth grade), and either Backus or MacFarland Middle School (sixth grade).

A few blocks north of the Fort Totten Metro stop on property that school officials believe could be sold or leased for $1 million, Keene is just four blocks east of Rudolph Elementary.

But to accommodate Keene's students, Rudolph would have to exceed its current capacity, according to the closure report. The report predicts a substantial decline in the number of school-age children living in the neighborhoods near Keene, which means that any crowding at Rudolph would likely be short-lived.

School officials plan to bus Keene students to Rudolph at least for next year, so they don't have to cross busy intersections at North Capitol Street, Riggs Road and South Dakota Avenue. The closure proposal does not say whether special programs at Keene, such as Spanish instruction for grades 3 through 6 and math and science instruction via a special satellite television network, would be transferred to the neighboring schools.

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TO BE CLOSED

School: Petworth Elementary
Location: 801 Shepherd St. NW
Students: 259
Capacity: 284
Proposed Use: Sale, lease or joint venture; estimated revenue: $900,000
Voting to close Petworth: Becton, Cooper, Gallagher, Hall, Howard, Kruvant, MacLaury, Washington.
Voting to keep Petworth open: Reeves.

Petworth students will attend Clark, Park View or Whittier Elementary School.

Petworth, built 95 years ago in its namesake neighborhood, needs $5.3 million in repairs, the closure report says. School officials want to sell or lease the building for an estimated $900,000.

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Ward 5

TO BE CLOSED

School: McKinley High
Location: 151 T St. NE
Students: 664
Capacity: 1,491
Proposed Use: Sale, lease or joint venture; value undetermined
Voting to close McKinley: Becton, Cooper, Gallagher, Kruvant, MacLaury.
Voting to keep McKinley open: Hall, Howard, Reeves.
Abstaining: Washington.

McKinley's enrollment includes 195 students from the former Langley Junior High, who moved into McKinley when Langley closed last year. They will be transferred several blocks south to R.H. Terrell Junior High School.

McKinley high school students will be rezoned to Cardozo, Coolidge, Dunbar or Roosevelt high schools.

McKinley's walls are scarred with graffiti and peeling from water damage. Hallways seem endless and empty, even between class periods. Some parts of the building are closed off with a metal gate and never used.

But McKinley students say the numbers and empty classrooms don't tell the real story of their school, a neighborhood landmark with a strong alumni tradition. Those who chose McKinley for its communications magnet program or award-winning JROTC unit say they do not like the reputations of Cardozo and Roosevelt and would not go to either.

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TO BE CLOSED

School: Taft Junior High
Location: 1800 Perry St. NE
Students: 273
Capacity: 1,203
Proposed Use: Property kept as inventory for swing space and renovated to eliminate all potential fire code violations
Voting to close Taft: Becton, Cooper, Gallagher, Hall, Howard, Kruvant, MacLaury, Reeves, Washington.
Voting to keep Taft open: none.

Taft students will go to Backus Middle School, 13 blocks north on South Dakota Avenue, or to Marshall Elementary, a kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school that is about the same distance away in the opposite direction. Eighth- and ninth-graders will attend high school in September.

The school system will then spend millions to fix and improve Taft so it can house students from other schools while major repairs or renovations are going on at those facilities.

Taft, like Douglass, could be reopened as a school in the future, if the District's student population increases.

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TO BE CLOSED

School: Woodridge Elementary
Location: 2959 Carlton Ave. NE
Students: 322
Capacity: 328
Proposed Use: Sale, lease or joint venture; value undetermined
Voting to close Woodridge: Becton, Cooper, Gallagher, Hall, Kruvant.
Voting to keep Woodridge open: Howard, MacLaury, Reeves, Washington.

Woodridge students will be moved to Langdon Elementary School.

Woodridge has nearly doubled in size in the last 10 years and now has just six empty seats. Parents say full classrooms are proof of its success.

Woodridge is the only public school in Washington with a Montessori program that extends through sixth grade. It also runs a citywide pilot program that puts children with disabilities into regular classrooms.

"It makes no sense to penalize the program that is working," Marcia Timmel, a Woodridge parent wrote in a letter to Becton. "Instead we should either close or consolidate the schools that are failing."

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Ward 6

TO BE CLOSED

School: Blow Elementary
Location: 725 19th St. NE
Students: 337
Capacity: 536
Proposed Use: Sale, lease or joint venture; value undetermined
Voting to close Blow: Becton, Cooper, Gallagher, Hall, Kruvant, MacLaury, Washington.
Voting to keep Blow open: Howard, Reeves. Six blocks north of Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in the Kingman Park neighborhood, 28-year-old Blow is more than one-third empty. Enrollment has declined steadily in the last decade, and the school system's closure report says the number of school-age children in the surrounding neighborhood is expected to decrease in coming years.

Students from Blow will attend Miner Elementary, five blocks away, or Gibbs Elementary, three blocks away.

Gibbs is now about one-third empty, and Miner is about one-fourth empty. Together, the two schools have room for 408 additional students.

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TO STAY OPEN

School: Peabody Elementary
Location: 425 C St. NE
Students: 128
Capacity: 244
Proposed Use: Sale, lease or joint venture; estimated revenue: $4,375,000
Voting to close Peabody: Becton.
Voting to keep Peabody open: Cooper, Gallagher, Kruvant, Hall, Howard, MacLaury, Reeves, Washington.

Peabody, in a historic Capitol Hill building, is home to the Reggio Emilia charter program and an acclaimed early childhood education program.

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Ward 7

TO BE CLOSED

School: Kelly Miller Middle*
Location: 49th and Brooks streets NE
Students: 187
Capacity: 870
Proposed Use: Existing facility to be razed; new state-of-the art school would be constructed to accommodate students from Kelly Miller and Evans.
Voting to close Kelly Miller: Becton, Cooper, Gallagher, Kruvant, Hall, Howard, MacLaury, Reeves, Washington.
Voting to keep Kelly Miller open: None.

The vote to close Kelly Miller -- whose students were indefinitely moved to Evans last December because of fire code violations at Kelly Miller -- is in fact a vote to raze and rebuild the school.

School officials have pledged to create a new Kelly Miller that will be the crown jewel of the refurbished system. Until that happens, Evans will stay open and house students from both schools. When they move, Evans will close.

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TO BE CLOSED

School: Evans Middle
Location: 5600 E. Capitol St. NE
Students: 179
Capacity: 783
Proposed Use: Sale, lease or joint venture; estimated revenue: $720,000; would not be closed until the new Kelly Miller/Evans Middle School is ready for occupancy


Voting to close Evans: Becton, Cooper, Gallagher, Hall, Howard, Kruvant, MacLaury, Reeves, Washington.
Voting to keep Evans open: none. Evans Middle School and nearby Kelly Miller Middle School could be called the prototypes of the closure plan. Students from the two schools -- both of which were mostly empty -- were merged and housed at Evans in December in what schools Chief Executive Julius W. Becton Jr. said was a temporary measure to postpone costly fire code repairs at Kelly Miller.

Yet the combined population of 361 is still less than half of Evans's capacity, and the school system has recommended that the merger be permanent -- but with a bonus. Students would remain at the 33-year-old Evans for the next academic year while Kelly Miller is razed and rebuilt. When the new building is completed, students from both schools would move in.

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TO STAY OPEN

School: Nalle Elementary
Location: 219 50th St. SE
Students: 360
Capacity: 668
Proposed Use: Sale, lease or joint venture; value undetermined


Voting to close Nalle: Becton.
Voting to keep Nalle open: Cooper, Gallagher, Kruvant, Hall, Howard, MacLaury, Reeves, Washington.

Nalle phased out its fifth and sixth grades in the last three years to focus on early childhood education. It has a part-time social worker and psychologist paid for by the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. (Freddie Mac), which, as part of its partnership with the school, tutors students, takes them on trips and has installed an air-conditioner in every classroom.

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TO BE CLOSED

School: Richardson Elementary
Location: 201 53rd St. NE
Students: 361
Capacity: 508
Proposed Use: Sale, lease or joint venture; value undetermined


Voting to close Richardson: Becton, Cooper, Gallagher, Hall, Kruvant, MacLaury, Reeves.
Voting to keep Richardson open: Howard.
Abstaining: Washington.

Students from Richardson, in Lincoln Heights, will be transferred five blocks to Shadd Elementary or eight blocks to Drew Elementary. Richardson's special programs include Montessori classes for 3- to 5-year-olds, a performing arts curriculum and conflict resolution classes. High school students spend 90 minutes a day after school there, helping students do homework. The closure report does not say if those activities would be transferred to Shadd or Drew.

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Ward 8

TO BE CLOSED

School: Douglass Junior High
Location: 2620 Douglass Rd. SE
Students: 351
Capacity: 801
Proposed Use: Property kept as inventory for swing space and renovated to eliminate all potential fire code violations


Voting to close Douglass: Becton, Cooper, Gallagher, Hall, Howard, Kruvant, MacLaury, Reeves, Washington.
Voting to keep Douglass open: none.

Douglass, in the Buena Vista neighborhood of Southeast Washington, is more than half-empty. Students from Douglass will attend Johnson Junior High School, which is less than a mile from Douglass and is three-quarters empty. The school system will then spend $4 million to improve Douglass so it can house students from other schools while major repairs or renovations are going on at those facilities.

If the school-age population increases in the future, Douglass could be reopened as a regular public school.

Test scores at Douglass are low, and 10 to 20 percent of its students have been held back each of the last three years.

But Theresa Gibson, a parent whose son is a Douglass graduate and whose daughter is set to attend Douglass this fall, said Principal Louise Buckner has worked hard to turn the school around since she arrived three years ago and is slowly improving things.

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TO STAY OPEN

School: McGogney Elementary
Location: 3400 Wheeler Rd. SE
Students: 489
Capacity: 564
Proposed Use: Sale, lease or joint venture; value undetermined
Voting to close McGogney: Becton.
Voting to keep McGogney open: Cooper, Gallagher, Kruvant, Hall, Howard, MacLaury, Reeves, Washington. McGogney is sandwiched between two other elementary schools -- M.C. Terrell and Mildred Green -- in the Congress Park neighborhood of Southeast Washington. But the closure of McGogney would have pushed the population of the neighboring schools above their current capacity levels.

McGogney has several special programs, according to the closure report, including after-school tennis and tutoring, a chess club, a math/science project that includes parents as well as children, peer mediation and a school radio station.

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TO STAY OPEN

School: Patterson Elementary
Location: 4300 S. Capitol St. SE
Students: 387
Proposed Use: Sale, lease or joint venture; estimated revenue: $750,000


Voting to close Patterson: Becton.
Voting to keep Patterson open: Cooper, Gallagher, Kruvant, Hall, Howard, MacLaury, Reeves, Washington.

Parents from Patterson, which has above-average test scores that are the highest in that neighborhood, strongly opposed the closure and organized a playground protest to demonstrate their concern.

They said their school's success depends on its unique resources: a hard-working principal, math-science enrichment programs and tutoring and mentoring provided by the Naval Research Lab, the Anacostia Naval Station, Hadley Hospital and other organizations that have adopted the school.

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* Kelly Miller was merged with Evans in December; all students are attending Evans Middle School.
SOURCE: D.C. public schools

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