For the first time in its 20 year history, the DC Public Charter School Board has openly engaged in the battle to secure surplus DCPS buildings for charters. Read it for yourself:
“A recent facility survey conducted by the DC Public Charter School Board (DC PCSB), indicated that 71% of public charter schools are interested in moving into a city-owned building. DC PCSB has identified 10 vacant city-owned school buildings with more than 1.6 million square feet that are ideal for a public charter school to locate. However, only one of these city-owned school buildings is currently being considered as the location for a public charter school. Instead, public charter schools will have to continue to lease from private landlords.”
The board also makes the point that currently charters are forced to locate in places that are not suitable for classrooms such as storefronts, church basements, and warehouses. “Far too often, public charter schools are educating students in buildings that were not intended to be a school, which means that some schools do not have access to things like playgrounds, fields, gyms, and cafeterias,” the PCSB asserts.
Although there is no moral reason that these buildings have not been turned over to charters, the PCSB makes three points as to why this move should be made. The board states that the facilities bring increased rent to the city while at the same time are renovated at no cost to taxpayers. However, these first two justifications actually perpetuate the public policy discrimination against charters in that the regular schools don’t have mortgages and are renovated to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars without costing them a dime.
The PCSB also claims that co-locating charters in underutilized DCPS buildings is a better use of space.
The organization’s website includes a list of 10 vacant schools and six under-enrolled facilities to which charters would love access. Buildings noted as under-utilized currently have students in 48 percent or less of its total square feet. Here is the list.
Let’s see if this plea has any impact. I would not hold your breath.