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DC Public Schools has scheduled a public meeting on Feb. 28 to announce its decision on the reopening of Van Ness Elementary School. Parents were already told back in December that the school won't reopen for the 2011-2012 school year, but residents hope that DCPS could decide to get the school back online for fall 2012.
If the school isn't going to be reopened in the near future, there might be the possibility of expanding the boundaries of Tyler Elementary (at 10th and G SE) to allow Near Southeast children to go there, rather than to Amidon-Bowen in Southwest, their current assigned school. (I don't know whether a decision on that would be announced at this meeting.) The meeting is at 6 pm at the Arthur Capper Seniors building at 900 5th St., SE. You can read my previous posts on Van Ness for more information.
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Bruce says: (2/23/11 11:06 AM)
Thanks for posting.


F says: (2/23/11 2:49 PM)
Anyone know which way this appears to be going in advance???


sjordan says: (2/23/11 5:46 PM)
my sources were telling me its a "no go". but, it is anyone's guess. truth be told, i imagine there is not a lot of money flying around right now to put towards start up costs...we'll see (and, keep our fingers crossed).


MJM says: (2/24/11 9:56 AM)
If it is a no-go (per the 'sources'), is this something that the opening is kicked down the road (and brought up each year) or do you think it would be final and the building sits there empty for a decade or two? Not hoping for the latter.


JD says: (2/24/11 10:04 AM)
@MJM, it won't be "final," and I doubt the school will sit empty for a decade or two. There just aren't enough students in the neighborhood right now (that was shown pretty clearly in the survey numbers), nor the easy money needed to get it opened (which rumors put at $2-$3 million).

If they had no intention of reopening it, they'd have sold it back in 2006, since land on M Street can fetch money that DCPS could certainly use. The plan all along has been to reopen it when there are enough students. It's not like the neighborhood is anywhere close to its expected maximum population right now.

If it is a "no go" for the next couple of years, maybe the neighbors should just open a charter school, and ask to use the building. :-)





KP says: (2/24/11 10:07 AM)
If it is a "no-go," DCPS has said they will announce their plan for revisiting the decision. It probably wouldn't be revisited every year.

The school could continue to be used for offices or might be used as swingspace while other schools are renovated.

All of that is speculation right now, though.



KP says: (2/24/11 10:09 AM)
@JD - we've asked to use the building (and existing charter schools have asked); up until now DCPS has not entertained offers to use the building as a charter school. They've accepted proposals, but sat on them.


Bruce says: (2/24/11 1:31 PM)
The building was kept for a reason and considering the # of residential units planned over the next 5 years, opening the school will be necessary. We shall see. I am hoping that a meeting wasn't called to announce to the community that the school's reopening will never happen.
Let's Just see...


MJM says: (2/24/11 4:16 PM)
Its the DC govt we are talking about - I hope it does open for the parents, soon to be parents, and the hood but right now the DC govt might have a few more important things to worry about like, well you know..... :)


sjordan says: (2/24/11 4:31 PM)
My "sources" are telling me they are now going to build a "beer garden" there. Totally kidding, of course.

I can see the school system administrators re-visiting the opening of the school every 3 years or so. However, given the results of the survey, I don't think it will open prior to 2015. This is just a totally off-the-wall non-educated opinion though.

Still, Bruce brings up a good point. Why call a meeting to say "there are no plans ever to open the school and we are selling it...or whatever".

I am not yet 100 percent sold on supporting the school opening (and, vice versa) but I do support whatever works best for the neighborhood.


JD says: (2/24/11 4:47 PM)
Good community relations dictate that you call a meeting in a situation like this, when there are very involved parents/community members, so the disappointed parties can let off steam to the Powers That Be when the bad news comes down. If they just put out a two-sentence press release telling people that the school won't be reopened, and that they'll revisit the decision in two years, people would go ballistic, hit every blog and listserv in the city with off-the-chart fury at how they've been disrepsected with such a dismissive paper statement, and eventually there would need to be a public meeting anyway just to calm everyone down.

(You get the sense I've seen this sort of thing play out before?)

This way they "hear your concerns," and can "thank you for participating in the process."

(All of the above presuming what I think most people are presuming, that Van Ness won't be opening for 2012-2013. What they'll say beyond that, in terms of timelines for reassessing, or what else the building will be used for, I don't think anyone has any feel for that.)



Mark says: (2/26/11 10:44 AM)
It's interesting that the argument is being made that the numbers aren't there - we already have enough kids just in CQ and CHT for a complete class - there are a lot of kis in the hood and many more on the way. Moreover, when you consider that Brent is over capacity it really makes sense to bring our two schools together (which is the pitch being made by the Brent PTA - have Brent handle the early elementary years and Van Ness the later grades).

BTW, as a point to local residents who don't have kids and are "on the fence" there are few things that correlate better to an increase in property value than having a local elementary school - particularly when it is a good one. Just ask the folks who own proeprty around Brent.


Bruce says: (2/27/11 9:02 AM)
my opinion is that the news will not be bad. Given the # of residential units slated for this area over the next 5 yrs, the school will be a necessity. Tax revenue has increased in the Capitol Riverfront area over 4400% and the building could have been sold off for huge $$ and was not. Overall capitol cost to bring the building into shape is small and EYA will donate services toward that goal.
My opinion is that the school WILL reopen, it just a matter of when, not if. Current and projected data should show that I think...


JD says: (2/27/11 9:06 AM)
I hope there isn't anyone out there who truly believes that the school will never reopen.


MJM says: (2/28/11 1:18 PM)
Never is a strong word :) but those parents with elementary aged kids 9now) may never get to use because it might take years to open but at some point some kids will be able to take advantage of it - just a matter of when.


Bruce says: (3/1/11 7:22 AM)
The outcome was a victory. Given the state of the economy and the budgetary issues facing all agencies in DC, this is clearly a big deal.
Based on what DCPS had to say, it appears that the school is slated to reopen for the 2015 school year.
Although current data does not support a reopening before this, the projected data will allow for the 2015 opening.
Factors that went into this decision include a planning and engagement process to update the Master Facilities Plan, submit an MFP to approve capitol funds and work with EYA to discuss their contributions. This capitol cost is to retrofit the space at an estimated cost of 4-5 Million and convert some spaces back into classrooms since the space is currently used for offices.
DCPS assured me that this will happen. They even talked sooner (but i'll take the 2015 goal).

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