BACA meeting 4/7/08 and empty schools

There will be a BACA meeting tonight and the following will be one of the topics:
From Jim Berry…
Discussion of Future Re-uses JF Cook Elementary School and MM Washington Career High School:
At our upcoming meeting, we will set some time aside to engage in a community discussion about future uses of the buildings that now house JF Cook and MM Washington. As you may know, these two schools are slated to be closed at the end of this school year and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education is currently soliciting input from community residents as to how they would like to see these buildings re-used after the schools close for good. At a recent meeting on the subject, a number of ideas were offered to DC Government officials, including the placement of an MPD Substation in the JF Cook School building along with space for community meetings and other activities, as well as the conversion of MM Washington into a facility that has an “arts” focus – such as a community theater, a local art gallery, and the like. Other ideas involved housing opportunities for senior citizens, a public library, and the possibility of retaining MM Washington as a Career High School while substantially expanding the number occupational specialties in which its students could be trained for entry level positions in the DC workforce. Also, there was a strong expression of interest in preserving the memory of the historical figures in whose honor these buildings were named. As you know, any one or a combination of these ideas could find their way into the final plans for this important economic development but, perhaps needless to say, we must express a point of view on this topic in order to have our input factored into this decision-making. The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education is hosting a follow-up meeting at which residents and other stakeholders will be permitted to make recommendations about the future re-use of these buildings on the evening of Thursday, April 10, 2008 at McKinley Technology High School . And, we believe that this will be the final meeting called to hear our views concerning these buildings before a decision is made with regard to their respective dispositions. So, if interested, please come to our meeting on Monday to share your thoughts and recommendations regarding the two buildings. When these schools actually close, we cannot allow the two buildings to remain abandoned for the next 20 years – as has been the case with the former John Mercer Langston Elementary School building, also located near the intersection of North Capitol and P Streets, N.W.