My Aug. 14 story on the reconstruction of H.D. Woodson High School called it a hopeful moment for its students and community. But it fell short by leaving out some important history and context. As positive a moment as Woodson’s reopening was, it was also way overdue.
Woodson was in the first group of high schools in line for modernization in the DCPS Facility Master Plan approved by the old Board of Education in early 2001, along with McKinley, Phelps, Luke C. Moore and Bell-Lincoln Multicultural (now known Columbia Heights Education Campus).
“Woodson was THE first school identified in 2000 for replacement and that it wasn’t completed long before this fall seems a problem,” said Mary Filardo, executive director of the 21st Century School Fund, which studies and advocates for improvements in school facilities.
How did Woodson lose its place in line? Areas of the city with more political and social capital moved to the front of the queue. Ward 6, for example, got a new Eastern High School even though it was not in the first group of buildings selected for modernization. Same with Ward 3, where the ribbon on the palatial new Woodrow Wilson High School, also not on the initial list, was cut within days of Woodson’s dedication.
The new Woodson remains a signof hope. But it’s also fair to say that it stands a monument to capital budget politics.