Yesterday, Jon Banister of Bisnow Washington D.C. revealed that Mayor Muriel Bowser has turned five former DCPS schools over to developers. These historic and beautiful buildings could have played a major role in expanding our local charter school movement. For example, Rocketship PCS and KIPP DC are in desperate need of facilities and I’m sure there are many more charters that could have used the available space to try and meet the wait list of 11,317 children whose parents are trying to get them into one of these institutions.
The re-purposed structure, according to Mr. Banister, include the Franklin School which will become Planet Word, a museum to the language arts. It is 51,000 square feet and was built as one of the initial neighborhood public schools in our city. The Crummell School, which honors abolitionist and teacher Reverend Alexander Crummell, served black students in the 1900s. It is 108,000 square feet and will become a mixed use development.
The Grimke School gets its name from NAACP president Archibald Grimke. It currently houses the African-American Civil War Museum. The approximately 45,000-square-foot property will continue to be the home of the museum plus office space for its architect. There will also be some room for a cultural organization.
The Randall School used to be the Francis Cardozo Elementary School and Randall Junior High School. This approximately 50,000 square foot building will become a museum, office space, and restaurants.
Finally, the Hine School, which used to be Hine Junior High School, has become a Trader Joe’s, taking up 60,000 square feet.
So hundreds of thousands of square feet of surplus DCPS facilities that by law should have gone to charter schools are now being converted to commercial uses. The next time that you hear Ms. Bowser talk about her support for public education and charter schools please be brave enough to remind her that her claims could not be further from the truth.