Exterior of D.C. School
Photo by Darrow Montgomery.

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The first day of the public school year in D.C. is Monday, Aug. 29. That leaves less than four days for D.C. Public Schools and the Department of General Services to get their acts together. Multiple issues remain unresolved.

First there are the unresolved work orders in schools waiting for DGS’ attention. Most orders are related to heating and cooling units, as well as leaks, HVAC system problems, and plumbing issues. The agency has said they’re working with DCPS to close as many work orders as time and budgets will allow. DGS says they’ve closed more work orders this year than in previous years.

“We have worked and are working around the clock to get ready to welcome students back to school in 2 weeks, focusing on the 874 work orders prioritized this summer by DCPS,” the agency said in an Aug. 14 statement to WJLA.

D.C. councilmembers have been tweeting for the past month about their respective tours of DCPS buildings and laying out the issues they observe along the way.

Ward 4 Councilmember Janeese Lewis George called attention to “significant HVAC and drainage issues” that pop up in modernized schools a few years after reopening.

“DGS contracts with maintenance staff to provide temporary patchwork fixes, but ultimately we’ll probably need capital investment to re-do some major building systems to make things work more consistently,” she wrote in her weekly newsletter. “That’s expensive and does not happen overnight.”

Second, Mayor Muriel Bowser has taken every opportunity to remind parents and students of the District’s vaccine requirement. In addition to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for students 12 and older, DCPS requires students receive traditional vaccines to prevent polio, measles, and mumps, among others. Students have 20 days after the beginning of school to submit immunization records.

The NAACP supports the mandate, but says it will disproportionately impact Black students, and urged DCPS to provide a virtual learning program for students who can’t or won’t get vaccinated.

And finally, Chancellor Lewis Ferebee has said that DCPS is starting the year with vacancies for about 150 teaching positions. From January through July, 372 DCPS teachers resigned—a 52 percent increase over the number of resignations in previous years, according to an analysis from the Washington Post. Neighboring jurisdictions are experiencing similar shortages. Earlier this summer, DCPS announced a $2,500 signing bonus for some positions.

Mitch Ryals (tips? mryals@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • To see today’s COVID-19 data, visit our coronavirus tracker.
  • Mayor Bowser has yet to submit recommendations for the managed care organizations that will provide health insurance to low-income residents, so the District’s $3 billion Medicaid contract is up in the air. [Informer]
  • Marc Elrich has won a second term as Montgomery County executive, beating David Blair by 32 votes. [Maryland Matters]
  • Residents impacted by traffic violence describe the lasting impacts and how they’re coping. [DCist]
  • A Howard University dorm was evacuated after a bomb threat was made Tuesday night. Howard and several other HBCUs also dealt with bomb threats in January and February. [NBC Washington]
  • Five people were shot and two subsequently died after a shooting at O and North Capitol streets NW yesterday afternoon. Police are looking for a black Hyundai SUV that could be connected to the incident. [NBC Washington, Post]

By City Paper staff (tips? editor@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • The D.C. Court of Appeals will soon make a decision on whether Initiative 82, the measure to phase out the tipped minimum wage, will stay on the November ballot. Opponents in the restaurant industry say elections officials improperly decided that I-82 organizers had enough signatures to get it on the ballot. The Board of Elections says it needs a final answer by mid-September. [DCist]
  • D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Lewis Ferebee says the school system has already enrolled 40 migrant children arriving from Texas and Arizona, and will accept any others who choose to stay in D.C. [WTOP]
  • Northern Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly is throwing his hat in the ring for the top spot on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, after its current chair lost a primary. That could be good news for D.C., as the committee handles statehood and other local control issues. Connolly has long been supportive of statehood and D.C. autonomy, too. [Post]

By Alex Koma (tips? akoma@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • MegaFest, a celebration of D.C.-based Soul Mega Brewing’s third anniversary and of the region’s Black brewers and beer professionals, takes place this weekend at The Parks at Walter Reed. [Post]
  • The era of streateries might be ending: Two popular outdoor dining spaces in Silver Spring and Bethesda will partially close after Labor Day. [Washingtonian]
  • A few phrases to describe Le Mont Royal, the new French Canadian disco bistro coming to Adams Morgan: “Champagne-fueled dance parties,” “lounge-like dining areas with green velvet banquettes,” “fun meets fancy,” and traditional bistro food that’s run through an “I’m on LSD filter.” [Washingtonian]

By City Paper staff (tips? editor@washingtoncitypaper.com)

Credit: Margot Schulman

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  • Yesterday, in honor of Ukraine Independence Day, several local theaters displayed solidarity with the Mariupol theater hit by a Russian airstrike several months ago, which killed hundreds of people sheltering inside. [Twitter, Twitter]
  • Lillian J. Huff is the namesake of the newly reopened Lamond-Riggs/Lillian J. Huff Library. Huff lived in D.C. after moving here to attend Howard University and she fought like hell to bring more libraries and more resources in Ward 5. [Post
  • Tomorrow is National Dog Day and, if you’re short on ideas of how to best celebrate your pup, here are some options. [Washingtonian]
  • Even the Commanders marching band isn’t free of drama. The ensemble took a break during COVID, but is returning this year, pared down from 60 to 20 members. “This isn’t the band coming back,” says Lynn Haase, who joined in 2016. “This is a band coming back.” [Post]
  • This season is going poorly for the Nationals, so let’s look forward to 2023: The Nats play all 30 MLB teams at least once and kick off the season at home against Atlanta on March 30. [WJLA]

By City Paper staff (tips? editor@washingtoncitypaper.com)

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