Murch Elementary, the last Ward 3 school to undergo modernization, learned this week that the amount budgeted for the addition and upgrades is short – by $10 million.
Murch’s school improvement team (SIT) says DCPS and DGS are proposing revisions to the plan presented to the community in July to get the project under budget. However:
It is important to understand that the changes DCPS and DGS are considering do not affect mere “bells and whistles.” Among other things, the proposed changes include:
- eliminating a cafeteria or a space large enough to hold the whole school for an assembly,
- severely shrinking the library/media center,
- replacing the play space for PreK and Kindergarten with surface parking,
- reducing the overall size of the playground, and
- moving the delivery and loading dock entrance to Reno Road.
Ruth Wattenberg, the Ward 3 State School Board representative, wants to see full funding for this project and urges community members to write letters of support to Mayor Bowser and Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles.
Wattenberg, in her February newsletter, also states her opposition to a state education office (OSSE) proposal that could allow students to test out of any high school course. She participated in a task force that recommended the testing out of math and foreign language courses.
That, she says, makes sense. because “these subjects/courses are very sequential, defined, and finite. If you’ve mastered Spanish I or Algebra 2, there’s no need to take these courses in order to graduate!”
OSSE also wants to allow students to test out of subjects such as U.S. History and World Literature. This, and the task force do not agree with.
“It’s hard to imagine a high school student showing up at an academic private school and being told that they already know so much U.S. History that there’s no need to learn more,” Wattenberg writes. “I don’t think we should ask less of our public schools.”
Wattenberg also gives an update on efforts to increase the federal Tuition Assistance Grant program that provides funding for DC students attending out-of-state public universities. Read more here.