Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

An indication that there is little respect for planning: schools edition

See "New middle school proposed for Ward 3" from the Examiner. From the article:

D.C. Councilwoman Mary Cheh is drafting a proposal to open a new middle school in Ward 3, where virtually every school is over capacity with students interested in the affluent area's offerings. The Palisades school would double as a community recreation center and relieve crowding at Alice Deal Middle School; at 95 percent capacity, it's the only school in Ward 3 less than 100 percent full. Horace Mann Elementary School, steps from American University's campus, is projected to hit 140 percent capacity this fall.

"We're sort of in a situation where we're successful, and then we have to deal with our success," Cheh told The Washington Examiner.

Even if Councilmember Cheh is absolutely right to call attention to the need for expanded school facilities in Ward 3 (although we have plenty of semi-empty facilities in Ward 4, see "Schools bursting at seams throughout region" from the Examiner, right next door).

This kind of initiative ought to be driven by a schools and neighborhoods planning process, and a capital improvements program and planning process, not by a Councilmember.

Plus, if there were better schools in other wards, fewer students would attend Ward 3 schools on an out-of-boundary basis, thereby reducing enrollment and capacity demands and the need to build more schools.

42 of the city's 115 schools (36.5%) are seriously underutilized according to data from the second Examiner article:

DC Public Schools
capacity data by ward

Total schools# over capacity# less than 60% full

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