One in six traditional D.C. public schools is targeted for closure under a plan put forth Tuesday by Chancellor Kaya Henderson, the latest sign of a system facing budget pressures and increased competition from fast-growing charter schools.
The chancellor said her plan would shift resources from maintaining under-enrolled schools to focus on improving academic programs.
The 20 schools marked for closure are spread across six city wards but are concentrated in Northeast Washington and east of the Anacostia River. They include the first neighborhood high school in recent memory that would close — Spingarn in Northeast — and two middle schools that would be absorbed into high schools, creating a pair of sixth-through-12th-grade secondary campuses.
Altogether, the targeted schools enroll about 3,000 students who would be sent to other buildings with available space.
Henderson said she plans to keep most of the vacated buildings under DCPS control, finding community uses until enrollment rebounds to reopen them. She said some of the buildings could be rented to charter schools, accelerating the growth of the publicly funded but independently run schools. They now enroll more than 40 percent of D.C. students, up from about 31 percent five years ago.
Henderson said she believes in “a strong and growing system of traditional neighborhood public schools” but acknowledged that in some neighborhoods, the majority of parents have opted for charter schools.
“There are neighborhoods where we have not been successful after multiple tries and many years,” she said, “and there is a high-performing charter that has cracked the nut.”
Four years ago, then-Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee closed 23 schools, igniting angry protest and long-lasting political backlash. Henderson hopes to avoid a similar reaction. She has banked on the idea that communities will be more willing to accept closures if they’ve had a chance to hear and respond to her plans.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
20 D.C. schools targeted for closure
D.C. public schools are nothing more than daycare centers at this point. This will help the students not hurt them.