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, April 05, 2016

Yet another capital budgeting planning failure: calls to renovate Eliot-Hine Junior High School in DC

In the 1920s and 1930s, DC built K-12 education campuses, usually featuring a high school, junior high, and elementary school in close proximity.

Greater Greater Washington has an entry ("Eliot-Hine, a DC middle school, is falling apart") about what a physical wreck Eliot-Hine Junior High School and calls for fast tracking renovations to the school.

According to the piece, when the two schools were combined the enrollment was 348.  Now it is 188.



Close/Mothball the school.  Hold it in the property inventory for a later time when there might be demand which would justify reopening the school.

Redistribute the students to other schools, which will in turn strengthen those schools, which likely are significantly underenrolled.

DCPS junior high schools may lack the capacity to absorb students from a closed Eliot-Hine.  Note that a commenter on the GGW entry rightly points out that no city school should be allowed to be in such a poor state.  And s/he states--I don't know myself--that the public junior highs lack the capacity to absorb 188 students from closing Eliot-Hine.

I wouldn't be surprised if that is the case, because the city has closed maybe as many as one dozen junior highs, or lost them to charters, like the ex-Paul Junior High, which is now a charter school, in the recent past--note that the lack of junior highs causes an enrollment drop in public high schools.

My solution:

(1) If the commenter is correct that there isn't excess capacity

(2) Then I recommend closing the unneeded recently rebuilt Dunbar High School ("DC wastes $122 million on new high school: evidence of failures in capital improvements planning and budgeting," 2013; "DC high school that wasn't needed and built at a cost of $122 million wins sustainability award," 2015)

(3)  Redistribute the Dunbar students to Eastern, McKinley, and Cardozo High Schools.

(4)  Reopen Dunbar as a junior high school, with capacity for at least 500-600 students.

(5)  Close Eliot-Hine Junior High School.  Sadly, the exterior is beautiful and it is a building eligible for historic designation.  It was built at a time when the city had pride and treated municipal architecture seriously.

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At 12:03 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

note that on the GGW post thread, commenter treehouse claims there are as many as 1,000 available seats in other DCPS middle schools serving this broad geographic area.

At 2:15 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

another commenter on the entry says that there is excess capacity at other middle schools in the area, enough to absorb the students from E-H.


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