First there was the Kindergarten wing, built from trailers before my daughters attended Murch in the early 1990s. A new music trailer was added during their stay. Then the front of Murch was obscured by two trailers for the fifth grade classes about three years ago. And now, four more trailers have been added for the new school year starting today.
According to Maggie Gumbinner, a current Home and School Association (HSA) co-president, the three trailers that have taken over the main staff parking lot are for the fourth grade classes, and another next the gym is for special education students and English language learners.
Murch is bursting at the seams. In a letter sent to DC Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson in January, Martha Macintosh, chair of the Murch Local School Advisory Team and Kirsten Anderson and Karissa Kovner, then co-presidents of the HSA, pointed out that the school’s student population had grown by 18% over the last three years, and 9% over the 2012-2013 school year. For the 2013-14 school year, the school had 86 new families and 627 students. This was well above the projected enrollment of 601 students, but DCPS afforded no adjustment in budget, which in the past had been done through an equalization process, a common practice of many jurisdictions.
Current projected enrollment for the 2014-2015 school year stands at 680, about 8.5% higher than last year’s. Given the lack of accommodations for growth then and adding the growth projections for this year, no wonder the trailers are coming on strong.
Hopefully the Murch modernization and addition, which now have the funding for a 2015 start, will alleviate the crowding now and in the future. But for now, the trailers will have to do.