Now that it is abundantly clear that Mayor Muriel Bowser has no intention of transferring shuttered DCPS facilities to charter schools, a new solution is needed for identifying building in which these schools can operate. However, it appears that an old remedy is about to become much more relevant.
The last five charters that have been approved for new locations will open in commercial space. Capital Village PCS has taken over the former home of City Arts and Prep PCS, and Girls Global Academy PCS has settled into 733 8th Street, N.W., the site of the Calvary Baptist Church. Appletree Early Learning PCS will join the Richard Wright PCS for Journalism and Media Arts at 475 School Street, S.E. that was part of the campus of the closed Southeastern University. Finally Rocketship PCS will open in Ward 5 in a building owned by the Cafritz Foundation.
In the past it was exceptionally difficult for charters to find offices in which to locate. But now, with businesses forced to close due to the coronavirus and employees working remotely, the ecosystem has been altered.
Much is being written about how Covid-19 is making companies re-think the way its staffs work. Telecommuting is now the new normal for many individuals. The pandemic, it seems, has changed the way that business is conducted that may have a lasting effect.
The long-term impact could be a glut in office space where there once was a tight market. This should lower the square foot price of leasing and increase availability by leaps and bounds. A slower economy will decrease the costs of build outs and renovations. These trends will make it much easier for charter schools to afford these sites.
While there is a slogan that out of tragedies come opportunities, the new availability of commercial real estate for charter schools is one that I would have willingly given up.