On January 17, District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor Kaya Henderson announced her new school consolidation and reorganization plan for 2013-2014, a modified version of her massively unpopular school closure plan from last year, the ‘DCPS School Closings and the Displacement Equation, Feb, 2012.’
After considerable outcry from DC communities and an awesome display of solidarity from local neighborhoods, the embattled Chancellor relented on closing 5 of her 20 doomed historic city schools, but only for now.
The confusing and convoluted new 12-page school closure and consolidation plan will close 15 neighborhood schools, 13 at the end of the 2012-2013 school year and two at the end of the 2013-2014 school year.
Four schools saved for now from the Chancellor’s chopping block are: Garrison Elementary School, Smothers Elementary School, Malcolm X Elementary School and Johnson Middle School. Frances-Stevens Elementary has been cited as a fifth ‘saved’ school, but that is deceiving.
Frances-Stevens will merge with the School Without Walls, as outlined in the first school closure plan, and the former Frances-Stevens pre-school and elementary school students, many of them in Special Education, will find themselves attending a school incorporating middle and high school students.
Washington Teachers Union (WTU) President, Nathan Saunders issued this reaction to the new plan on Friday:
‘I have been fervently advocating for teachers, students and families who will ultimately be displaced. We will minimize the plan’s impact, while stabilizing teachers, students and schools.
‘Through a positive working relationship with DCPS, the Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) has influenced education stakeholders to ensure teachers with effective or higher evaluation ratings continue to have positions within the school system.
‘As a result of attrition from retirement, licensure adjustments and resignations, we will protect our interests.
‘WTU has also created new opportunities–such as the voluntary employee benefits association (VEBA) and the D.C. Teachers’ Retirement Amendment Act of 2013–for teachers who may be excessed or affected by school consolidations.
‘We are also on the cutting edge of new DCPS partnerships to ensure the viability of public education.
‘In the coming weeks, I will be reaching out to affected teachers and support personnel. WTU will also assist in facilitating job fairs for teachers affected by DCPS school consolidation and reorganization. In the meanwhile, please contact me directly with your concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org.’
Collin Hill, Garrison Elementary School’s popular visionary principal tweeted Thursday:
‘Garrison will stay open! The Garrison Community wants to thank the Chancellor for this opportunity!’
Jim Graham, Ward 1 City Council Member tweeted:
‘Community Victory on Garrison Elementary School!’
Ann McCleod, President of the Garrison PTA tweeted about a chance encounter with DC Mayor, Vincent Gray:
‘Just ran (into) @mayorvincegray at Five Guys! Thanked him for, had a great chat about our future, and will set up a time to talk more.’
Examiner congratulates the citizens of DC for rising up to save their beloved, historic neighborhood schools.