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At a meeting Monday night, DC Public Schools announced that, despite the hopes of the parents of small children who have moved to Near Southeast, Van Ness Elementary will remain closed for a few more years, perhaps opening by the 2014-15 school year. I wasn't at the meeting (was watching McEnroe, Lendl, Sampras, and Agassi at Madison Square Garden), but I can pass along the handout from the meeting (page one and two) that provides the rationale and data behind the decision.
The next open question is whether DCPS will expand the boundaries of Tyler Elementary at 10th and G SE to allow Near Southeast children to attend, rather than continuing to send them to Amidon-Bowen in Southwest, a situation which has many parents unhappy. Also, parents' groups have meetings scheduled with various city officials in the coming days to discuss the situation.
Sorry this is brief; if you were at the meeting, please feel free to use the comments to highlight anything said that isn't in the handout. You can also read my previous Van Ness entries for more background.
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Will says: (3/1/11 10:24 AM)
While disappointed with the delay, on balance we are optimistic about the 2015 commitment. With many schools in DC closing, this is an important win for Near SE.

My only fear is that this may become a self-fulfilling prophecy - that parents considering moving to Near SE will now look elsewhere until 2015.


Bruce says: (3/1/11 10:34 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).
No one left the meeting disappointed as everyone realizes that things take time.
No matter what, the school will re open.


JD says: (3/1/11 10:41 AM)
I guess I'm still surprised that people have any doubt the school will eventually reopen and are then seeing statements from the meeting as some big step forward. As I've posted many times, DCPS has always been assuming that a school will be needed in the neighborhood; that's why they never sold the building when they closed the school in 2006. So, to me, them saying they'll reopen the school isn't really news--of course they will, when the numbers support it. I think Kaya even said as much at the December meeting, that it wasn't a matter of if, but when.

Commitments on specific dates, however, should always be taken with a very large grain of salt. If fewer children move to the neighborhood than projected, 2015 might not happen, either.

And that also gives time in case some developer wants to make a pitch for that valuable 5th and M land, in exchange for building a new school elsewhere in the neighborhood, which has been mentioned in the past as an idea that might be entertained.


G says: (3/3/11 3:13 PM)
D-U-M-B.

Black SUVs with charcoal interiors for everyone!


Evan says: (3/4/11 10:15 AM)
I hope a renovation is at least in the plans before it eventually reopens. Like many DCPS buildings, it looks like a prison.


Andrew in DC says: (3/4/11 10:38 AM)
@G

I'll take mine fully-loaded.


Ben says: (3/4/11 10:43 AM)
You guys must be new to the District; you never accept the first tax payer funded fully-loaded SUV they try to force on you. You reject it for some asinine reason, make them get you a new one that is nearly identical to the rejected one and make the taxpayers to overpay for both vehicles while one goes completely unused. And most importantly, ignore DC procurement laws in the process. Now that's the DC way!

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