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Some DCPS offices to leave leased space
(Published April 3, 2006)

By KATHRYN SINZINGER
Staff Writer

Some administrative offices for D.C. Public Schools are expected to soon begin moving out of rented space on North Capitol Street and into a nearby former elementary school.

The relocation of at least six of the school system's assistant superintendents from 825 North Capitol St. NE to Logan School at 215 G St. NE will take over space that in recent years has been used primarily for teacher training.

While school officials are still completing plans for the move, which was originally scheduled to begin this month, spokeswoman Roxanne Evans said giving up all of the system's leased headquarters space on Capitol Hill "could certainly be a possibility" as Superintendent Clifford B. Janey and the school board seek more efficient ways to use three million square feet of excess instructional space in buildings owned by city taxpayers.

"Dr. Janey has not made a secret that he wants us out of this building," Evans told The Common Denominator by phone from her office at school headquarters.

How much the school system would save by vacating the leased, Class A office space occupied by top administrative personnel and the D.C. Board of Education was not immediately available. Evans said she believes the current lease for the space expires in 2007.

Line items related to rented facilities in the school systems' proposed budget for fiscal 2007, which begins Oct. 1 of this year, total more than $42.6 million but include costs for janitorial and security services, telephones and utilities that might remain somewhat fixed at another location.

School officials have long faced criticism from the community and been the target of several protests by high school students over housing their own offices in expensive, leased office space while the city's long-neglected public school buildings continue to deteriorate.

As part of the D.C. City Council's decision to approve funding for a 10-year, $2 billion school modernization program earlier this year, school officials are required to create an updated Master Facilities Plan that more efficiently manages the 147 city-owned school buildings. A series of community meetings are being held to solicit public comment and ideas for possible school consolidations or closings to be included in the superintendent's recommendations to the school board, due May 1.

Proposals being discussed include the possible merging of several schools, some in neighborhoods that have faced significant enrollment declines caused, in part, by the city's demolition of thousands of public housing units. What remains unclear about the proposals is whether schools abandoned in the mergers would again be needed after families return to the redeveloped HOPE VI public housing projects and others move into homes that are part of the tremendous boom in new housing being constructed, especially on the city's east side.

Included in recently revised budget documents for next year's school funding are these consolidations, along with an apparent plan to close Van Ness Elementary School at 1150 Fifth St. SE, which was dropped from the funding list and lost significant enrollment when families were moved from the Arthur Capper HOPE VI public housing project site:

School officials also are discussing the possible pairing of Amidon Elementary School with Jefferson Junior High in Southwest Washington to form either a Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 8 school or a reconfigured Pre-K through 5 program at Amidon and a Grades 6-8 middle school at Jefferson. Merging programs at Oyster Bilingual Elementary School and Adams Elementary, which both have significant Hispanic student populations, also is being discussed.

In addition to Wheatley Elementary currently being vacant, students are being bused from vacant H.D. Cooke Elementary at 2525 17th St. NW to the former K.C. Lewis Elementary at 300 Bryant St. NW, near Howard University, while Cooke awaits renovation.

Students from Luke C. Moore Academy are sharing the former Evans Middle School, across East Capitol Street from Shadd Elementary, with students from Maya Angelou Public Charter School while expansion of Moore Academy is completed at 1001 Monroe St. NE in Brookland.

Space was recently vacated at the former Taft Junior High School in Northeast Washington's Woodridge when students from Lincoln Middle School left the swing space they had occupied there to move onto their new 16th Street NW campus, shared with Bell Multicultural Senior High School.

Phelps Career Senior High School, the former vocational school adjacent to Spingarn Senior High School in Northeast Washington, also remains vacant.

Copyright 2006 The Common Denominator