The D.C. school board, which last month rejected a proposal to close 14 schools, does intend to close some schools but does not yet know how many, board President David H. Eaton told the House subcommittee on D.C. appropriations yesterday.
Responding to a question from subcommittee chairman Rep. Julian Dixon (D-Calif.) about declining enrollment, Eaton said the board intends to "revisit" the school closing issue "to attempt to determine how many schools we can close." He said there would be a "board-superindentent conference" on the issue no later than Monday.
Dixon recommended during last year's budget hearings that the board look at closing schools to cut costs.
Various board members and Superintendent Floretta D. McKenzie appeared before the subcommittee yesterday to testify in support of their 1983 budget request, which totals $306 million. They told the subcommittee that this amount, $42 million more than they received last year, will enable them to hire more teachers and classroom aides, expand vocational education and initiate more courses on computers.
Last month, the board rejected McKenzie's proposal to close 14 schools, arguing that the schools should remain open despite their low enrollments. Later, a majority of board members them said they wanted to consider closing some schools but not all 14 on McKenzie's list. According to board rules, the body must act to reconsider the matter no later than its next regular board meeting, scheduled for May 19.
Dixon made no comment on Eaton's statements during the hearing, other than to say "very good testimony" at the end.
Board member John E. Warren (Ward 6), one of the strongest opponents of school closings, criticized Eaton for telling Dixon that the board may close some schools, saying he should have confined himself to saying the board is exploring the possibility of leasing space in those schools.
In an interview after the hearing, board member R. David Hall (Ward 2) said there is "definite support" for closing at least two schools: the Bundy School for handicapped students in the Shaw area, which he said is in poor physical shape, and Nichols Avenue Elementary in Anacostia, where board members say drug addicts gather at night to shoot heroin.
Hall and board member Wanda Washburn (Ward 3) said there is a strong possibility that the board may close between five and eight schools in all.
Board Vice President Nathaniel Bush (Ward 7) said that even if the board closes these schools, "there is no support at all" for returning the buildings to the city. He said the board wants to keep these buildings in its inventory, even though it will cost the school system money to maintain them, in case enrollment begins to increase in the future.