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The Vacant School Wish List

Recreation center? Art gallery? Charter school? Dozens turned out Monday night at Harriet Tubman Elementary school in Columbia Heights to give their ideas for what should happen with two school buildings in Ward 1 that are slated to close. Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham (D), ever eager to stay on top of issues in his ward, also came out and talked to the group about what might happen to the empty buildings.

(Photo By Theola Labbé)

Meyer Elementary in Columbia Heights and Gage Eckington Elementary in nearby LeDroit Park will close in June. Graham told the crowd that their input was critical, and that his understanding, based on meetings with the city's Office of Planning and conversations with the mayor, was that no closed school buildings would be sold and all would remain city property-- either to be used as a school, a government office or some other kind of public purpose.

"The Mayor will make the decision, based on input with the council," Graham said.

Harriet Tregoning, director of the city's Office of Planning, which ran the meeting, told the crowd several times that charter schools will get access to some of the closed buildings.

Nancy Huvendick, center, of the 21st Century School Fund, talks about possible uses for Meyer elementary at the Monday night meeting (Photo By Theola Labbé).

"We know there are charter school needs out there," Tregoning said. "[Those] needs are going to be accommodated by this process."

The crowd, which discussed what they wanted to see during two breakout sessions, included Ward 1 residents along with representatives from charters schools such as Washington Yu Ying, Meridian and Academia Bilingue de la Comunidad. Nonprofits such as City Year and Keely's Boxing were also up in the mix.

By Theola Labbé-DeBose  |  March 26, 2008; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  City Life , D.C. Council , Education , Mayor Fenty , Theola Labbé-DeBose  
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School buildings are for EDUCATION, not gyms, art galleries or condos. The law is clear that public charter schools get first crack at these vacant schools buildings. And as long as we have about 40 charter schools in make shift schools there should be no question as to who will get the schools. They all go to charters! And I am perfectly fine with this given that charters are public schools. If my memory serves me correctly, I believe Paul Jr. High School is in a public school. Now, the new question will be...Does a 200 student charter school have a right to a building with a 1000 student capacity?

Posted by: msjudgejackie | March 26, 2008 5:19 PM | Report abuse

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