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Fenty: Ellington not going anywhere, yet

I caught up with Mayor Adrian M. Fenty this morning and asked him to address the uproar over discussions about the possible relocation of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts.The takeaway seemed to be that nothing is imminent, but that the condition of Ellington's 1898-vintage building raises questions about the school's long-term future in Georgetown.

Here is the entire conversation, which took place after a mid-morning groundbreaking for a new playground at the Arboretum Recreation Center in Northeast:

BT: The Duke Ellington community is pretty upset by what they've read recently.Can you shed any light at all on what the District's intentions are long term?

AF: I can't. I can't really shed any light, any more light, than what you've written in your articles, which I've been briefed on.

BT: Do you anticipate Ellington moving any time in the foreseeable future?

AF: I would just say it's too early to know what the entire future of all of our high school projects are. Our general commitment is that all of our high schools are going to get complete renovations and modernizations and Duke Ellington is long overdue.

BT: Duke Ellington is scheduled for renovations in 2012. But can you guarantee that Ellington will remain in Georgetown [after renovations]?

AF: No, in fact, the opposite We're exploring all options for all of our schools.

BT: What's wrong with it where it is?

AF:There's nothing wrong with the location. The building is completely run down and needs an overhaul. I think we're at stages now like we are with a lot of our high schools, looking at what is the best way to get a fantastic building for the Ellington students as quickly as humanly possible.

BT: Do foresee them at Logan temporarily?

AF: Again, I can't even commit to that. It's that early. We've got about four high schools, maybe more, that have broken broken ground. It's only those high schools we can discuss. The other ones, I have to defer to my facilities and programmatic experts who are kind of working everything out. Once they have something more concrete they'll present it to me, and if it makes sense then we'll present it to the greater community.

BT: Would you like to, like Councilman Evans has expressed, see a traditional, comprehensive high school in Ward Two around that location?

AF: One of things we want to do as we start to turn over the population, we've just gotten to the point where the population of the school system is growing, is to find ways to create more schools, that's elementary schools, middle schools and high schools.

BT: So you can see something like what the councilman is talking about?

AF: I can see in the future of the school system, and we've talked about this for the last three years, you know we had to make the consolidations early on. We just had too many schools close to each other, the resources were bring spread too thin. So going forward what we really hope is that as the population of the school system continues to grow, we'll do things like we've done at Oyster-Adams and other places where we have double campuses, open new elementary schools, new middle schools and yes even open new high schools. We're not at that point yet but it's the right goal for the city and I support it.

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By Bill Turque  |  January 21, 2010; 2:05 PM ET
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Next: Michelle Rhee, coming to a theater near you


Terrific job, Bill. Building on your interview, here are a few additional questions I have for Mayor Fenty:

AF: The building is completely run down and needs an overhaul.

EF: What about that thousands of dollars of donated arts space at Ellington that we’ve been hearing about?
AF: Once my facilities and programmatic experts have something more concrete they'll present it to me, and if it makes sense then we'll present it to the greater community.

EF: What and who is a “programmatic expert?” What do you mean “we’ll present it?” Who’s WE? And what’s IT? And what about getting the community involved in the process up front?
AF: One of things we want to do as we start to turn over the population…”

EF: Could you please clarify the phrase “turn over the population?”

Posted by: efavorite | January 21, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

When was Fenty last at Ellington? I love how he says Ellington is completely run down. What about the new roof, new central AC in the theatre, renovated gallery, renovated cafeteria, new recording studio, new media center, new tv studio, new bathrooms, etc? Fenty is spewing the same crap as Rhee about how inadequate the space is.

If Rhee and Fenty have 75M for a new performing arts high school, we'll happily move. Until then, we're staying put.

Posted by: madmom1 | January 21, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

It looks as though Fenty and Rhee have finally come up against a brave principal and some parents who realize that THEY and their children are the people who will ultimately make decisions about their own schools.

Congratulations, Madmom, Principal Pullens, Teachers and Parents! Keep fighting! I'm predicting you will win, if you haven't already.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | January 21, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

I didn't vote for him and all I can say is damn! How did he get elected? He absolutely doesn't respond or answer the question. He's a master at saying nothing!

Posted by: candycane1 | January 21, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

The potential problem is that principals that stand up to Rhee are summarily fired by Rhee. The Ellington principal needs to watch her/his backside. If I were her/him, I'd have the board do all of the politically tough stuff against Rhee. Otherwise, the Ellington principal will end up in a similar box to the one Hardy principal Pope is in (by the way Bill T, where is this new middle school magnet arts program led by Pope going to be located???).

Posted by: parentof2redheads | January 21, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Dave Chappelle: You're a graduate of Ellington. Please come back to the district. There is fresh new material for you to use. Your Rick James and R. Kelly skits are memorable but to do Fenty? OMG we would so enjoy it!

Posted by: candycane1 | January 21, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Wow...textbook example of starting out saying what you think people want to hear but being so vague as to have it be meaningless.

Reminds me of when DCPS told Jonetta Rose Barras that there were no plans to change staff at Hardy after they had already decided to move Patrick Pope. The Hardy parents only found out when Rhee came to the school and announced to them without ever consulting them.

Posted by: oldmh | January 21, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

The potential problem is that principals that stand up to Rhee are summarily fired by Rhee. The Ellington principal needs to watch her/his backside. If I were her/him, I'd have the board do all of the politically tough stuff against Rhee.

He is letting the Board do the talking.
They are the ones wrote the letter (which the principal allowed to go home with every student.)

And for everyone, here's a reminder of what efavorite posted earlier today:
Here’s another recent example of Rhee’s character and what she’s willing to say with no evidence and no way of proving it without releasing personnel info:

In the 2/1/10 issue of FastCompany*, Rhee states that during the October RIF, "I got rid of teachers who had hit children, who had had sex with children….”

Gee, that’s the first I’m hearing about the RIF ridding the schools of child abusers, and I keep pretty close track! Up to now it’s just been “bad teachers” with an admission that some competent teachers were also let go. Clearly those physically abusive teachers she’s now mentioning, if they exist, should have at least been removed from classroom duties, irrespective of a RIF. It seems to me any school leader has an obligation to do that.


Posted by: edlharris | January 21, 2010 9:03 PM | Report abuse

I read that article about the child abusers that she got rid of, but I also heard her say at the October 29th council hearing when it was disclosed that she sent a fake budget to Ghandi, that she knew effective teachers were RIF'd. That woman will just say any damn thing! Since that statement in the article is as stupid as it is untrue, can she answer these questions? Out of the 200 plus teachers that were RIF'd, how many were hitting the children, how may had sex with the children and how many were effective?

If so many hit and had sex with the children, why were they given the same treatment as the effective ones? (Fired) Were police reports filed to support such absurdity?

I'm serious! Dave Chappelle this could be your next HBO special!

Posted by: candycane1 | January 21, 2010 10:23 PM | Report abuse

If Rhee says stuff like that to a reporter, imagine what her staff meetings are like? How do people keep a straight face?

I am starting to believe that she really is crying out for help.

CandyCane - your idea is great one - please get it straight to Dave Chappelle -- maybe through Ellington insiders.

Posted by: efavorite | January 21, 2010 10:45 PM | Report abuse

Thanks e-favorite. I hope Ellington is reading. If Dave Chappelle gets wind of this, he could come back to DC, get all the material he needs on these clowns and sell out Constitution Hall 5 nights straight! Stevie Wonder supports Ellington as well as Wynton Marsailes. They have resources and Peggy Cafritz is no cotton puff. She's strong as steele and as resourceful as they come.

Posted by: candycane1 | January 22, 2010 8:33 AM | Report abuse

If those of academic prowess can relocate to Logan...and then return without any major hiccups. If those of athletic prowess can relocate to Fletcher-Johnson and in hope some day return and pretty much have not experienced any hiccups. Then why can't Duke Ellington relocate to Hines...while their school is being retrofitted. I know Tommy and crew would love to have those "Fame" buggers dancing all around Cap-Hill...shaking their groove thangs...and leaping and tap-dancing to the metro. It just gives me goosebumps in the thought process about having the artistic children in the area that has the most diversity....It's safe and convenient to all that is DC...think about it.

Posted by: PowerandPride | January 25, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

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