In a cover story last month, I dove into the problems and promise of two schools in Petworth, one of the city’s fastest-gentrifying neighborhoods: Roosevelt High School, which has seen some improvements but still posts dismal test scores and the lowest attendance of any neighborhood high school; and Powell Elementary School, a former struggling feeder into Roosevelt that’s seen a surge in its reputation and success in the past few years. The key to recreating a flourishing academic environment in the neighborhood, some local advocates say, is to channel Powell’s energy into Roosevelt—-something that’ll take strong leaders, attractive programs, better feeder patterns, and time.
But in the meantime, money doesn’t hurt. The Washington Post‘s Emma Brown reports that Mayor Vince Gray is seeking to shift close to $100 million in school renovation funds. Some schools would see their renovations delayed under Gray’s plan; Garrison Elementary in Logan Circle, for example, would lose more than $6 million this fiscal year and see the start of its modernization pushed back to 2015. But other schools would get a major boost. And none would benefit more than Powell and Roosevelt.
Powell, whose success has led to overenrollment, would be the biggest winner, gaining $19.6 million for its modernization. Roosevelt, where renovations are underway and should be completed next year, comes in second, with a $14.8 million increase. No other school is slated to gain more than $11.8 million.
Some Ward 4 residents have been frustrated that their two neighborhood high schools, Roosevelt and Coolidge, have gotten bumped to the end of the modernization list, behind every other D.C. neighborhood high school. The boost to Powell and Roosevelt, both in Ward 4, could bolster Ward 4 Councilmember and mayoral candidate Muriel Bowser, who’s drawn criticism for the delayed renovation schedule at her ward’s schools. Or it could be seen as a way for Gray to undercut Bowser in her own ward by providing for Petworth schools when she and the Council did not. In an election year, everything’s grist for the campaign mill.