What to do about empty schools

Originally uploaded by In Shaw

There will be a meeting (isn’t there always a meeting about anything around here?) March 20th for Ward 5 from 6-8pm at McKinley Technology High School about reuse of school buildings like JF Cook (as seen in pix); Backus; Taft; Slowe; MM Washington and Young.
If nothing else pops up on my after work calendar (like another meeting for something else or emergency hair appointment) I’ll probably attend. I have some ideas of what I’d like the two closing schools in the TC to be:
Not residential housing- Takes too long, requires too many committees, red tape, and people get all huffy when it’s not affordable or it’s not luxury.
Office Space…. for a non-social services branch of DC govt- I can’t imagine it would take too much work to replace small desks with cubicles. I say non-social services ’cause folks get annoyed with the non-profit social service orgs around here and get into a tizzy when another one pops up (SOME and group houses).
Office Space-non-profits (non-social services)- for the same reasons stated above. However, it would require hoops and other pieces of red tape.
My main interest is finding someone, something that could move into Cooke or MM Washington as soon as the kids clear out. As when the city mothballs these buildings they allow for their slow destruction. The longer they are mothballed the more likely they will look like Langston or Armstrong and become de facto homeless shelters and crack ho bordellos.

Sunday Ponderings

On the bus to Georgetown, going down P Street I gazed at the rear end of Shaw Jr. High, thinking, “gawd what an ugly building, tear that d@mned thing down.” However, I don’t think that will come anytime soon, as it is the school that gives our lovely hood its name. And regardless of the quality of the school people will fight to keep it open.
This weekend over on the Eckington Listserv frequent list contributer Ted McGinn made an excellent argument in support of some school closures. Here’s just the start (because the rest is too long):

We cannot continue to postpone taking the bitter medicine of school reform. When an elementary school’s enrollment falls to 200 or less students, the weighted student formula will not pay for all the bells and whistles of an excellent education. A trend of the declining school age population in many of our neighborhoods together with the draining of the pool of available students into charter schools has left us with grossly under enrolled schools. These schools in many cases have significant infrastructure issues including broken heating/AC systems, leaking roofs, poor plumbing and high maintenance costs. We fired Janey because he allegedly moved too slowly in addressing these pressing concerns. If you recall he had plans for closing schools as well, co-locating to fill buildings and creating school model programs such as K-8th grade to test which direction DCPS should head in for the future. Under Janey, we made our High Schools 9th thru 12th grade and redefined our middle schools as sixth grade thru eighth. There was such a backlash from the public and others about removing 6th grade from elementary schools that DCPS postponed it until the 08/09 school year.

I don’t know the numbers for Shaw Jr. High, but I do know that the regular public schools give some parents and guardians pause for thought. The middle class parents I know have shuffled their school aged kids into some excellent charter schools or considered how nice the public schools are in MD or VA, and moved accordingly. I’m not going to demonize charter schools, because right now they are the thing keeping people I like from moving.
Anyway, back to the late mid-century building that is Shaw Jr. High. In my morning pondering on the bus, I imagined bulldozers going at it and leveling the land and replacing it with a park with a nice big statue of Robert Gould Shaw in the middle.

BACA meeting to address Armstrong

Originally uploaded by In Shaw

Tonight is the 1st Monday of the month so, it’s BACA meeting time and one of the scheduled speakers is someone who can tell what’s going on with Armstrong. Ya know it would be nice if Armstrong opened before Cook and Washington close. Also there will be someone from the organization housed in the Slater school building.
According to Jim Berry:

As indicated, the first half of our meeting on Monday will include presentations by Mr. Thomas W. Gore, President/Executive Director of Associates for Renewal in Education, Inc., 45 P Street, N.W., concerning the interesting mix of services that A.R.E. provides to children in the community, and Mr. Wendell Butler, Chief Operating Officer of the Community Academy Public Charter Schools network, who will talk about plans to develop the building that formerly housed the Armstrong Manual Training School at 1st and P Streets, N.W. There will also be a few brief committee reports. Importantly, the second half of the meeting will be devoted to the hour of fellowship that we sponsor annually during the holiday season. This is an ideal opportunity to meet and greet neighbors from all parts of the community and, as usual, feel free to bring a dessert or a covered dish to share.

Note: I’m getting all woo-woo in the head and that’s nature’s signal for me to get more sleep. So I’ll be skipping tonight’s meeting and taking a nap, ’cause I don’t know how much longer I can last on auto-pilot today.