At the end of her administration’s “Education Week,” Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that a pair of buildings where traditional public schools used to operate would come up for solicitation by public charter schools in March.
The buildings—the former sites of Ward 5’s Keene School and Ward 8’s PR Harris School—currently house a trio of schools under the purview of the D.C. Public Charter School Board: Ingenuity Prep and National Collegiate Prep at 4600 Livingston Road SE and DC Bilingual at 33 Riggs Road NE. Previously, the District hadn’t made the facilities available for long-term leases, so that it could take them back for other uses. The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education, led by Jennifer Niles, will encourage the current occupants to apply for and agree to multi-year leases.
“This is good for our students, parents and community because our schools can focus on teaching instead of looking for new space,” said Scott Pearson, executive director of D.C.’s public charter school board, in a statement Friday.
The solicitation—essentially a release of the buildings by the city—will allow the public charter schools to redevelop the facilities and plan for long-term programs, in accordance with the District’s “school reuse” process. Democrats for Education Reform, a political action committee with offices in D.C., praised the solicitation as needed, in part because there are more than 10 empty school buildings across the city, which DFER says should be put to good use.
“Mayor Bowser’s decision to move forward today resolves a lot of uncertainty for hundreds of families, and is a clear signal that she is thinking about the needs of the 44 percent of D.C. public school children who attend charter schools,” Catharine Bellinger, executive director of DFER D.C., said in a statement on Friday.
In addition to the three schools being allowed to stay at their current spots, the building of the former M.C. Terrell School in Ward 8 will fold into the Charter School Incubator Initiative, which provides “short-term transitional space for start-up public charter schools located in high-need communities,” according to Bowser’s office. So M.C. Terrell will become a venue for Somerset Prep Academy, Community College Prep, and the Urban Teaching Center.
The announcement follows another education reform move by the mayor and D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson announced earlier this week: that 10 DCPS schools will get extended academic years starting this fall.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery