It seems fitting that the first post on Forest Hills Connection, exactly two years ago, was on overcrowding in our neighborhood schools and the need to reassess school boundaries.
Last Saturday, the DC Advisory Committee on Student Assignment announced three proposals for changing – perhaps even up-ending – the boundary system. And the process and ideas for change are as anxiety-inducing for some parents as Elaine Melmed predicted.
[col_1_2 style=”box border box_blue”]The first DCPS community meeting on boundaries for Upper Northwest and Northeast DC is tonight:
Tuesday, April 8
Coolidge High School – Armory
6315 5th St. NW
Information Fair: 5:30 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.
Presentation: 6:15 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Working Group: 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 24th
5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Coolidge High School[/col_1_2]
The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education, which is leading this effort, hasn’t published the three “Policy Examples” online (not that we found, at least), but here’s a scanned summary of the three proposals. The WashingtonPost.com has scans of the “choice sets” explained below. The Post and GreaterGreaterEducation.org also have summaries of each example.
Some brief notes on how local families would be affected:
Policy Example B: We’re doing this out of order because this is closest to the boundary system we have now, with a set feeder pattern from elementary to middle and high schools. One difference is truly universal pre-K: Four-year-olds city-wide would get to attend their neighborhood school, instead of the lottery system we have now.
But which school? Here, the boundaries potentially shift. The Post created an interactive map to show the proposed changes. Type in your address to see how it would affect you. In our area, for example, the Hearst boundary on the west side of Connecticut would move northward to Brandywine Street. The southernmost Murch boundary, again on the west side of Connecticut, would be Chesapeake Street. This change also affects the high-rises on the east side of Connecticut. There is no change for the single-family homes east of Connecticut.
Policy Example A: PK-3 and PK-4 would still be a straight lottery, as we have now, but for elementary schools, you’d be presented with a “choice set” of 3-4 nearby schools which would also determined by lottery, though you could also indicate a preference. Middle school placement would also be from a choice set. High school placement would be determined by city-wide lottery.
As we understand it, the elementary school choice set would be determined by the boundaries noted above. And “nearby” is apparently open to interpretation. The choice set for those families within the proposed Hearst boundary are Hearst, Eaton and Oyster Bilingual, even though Murch is closer than any of these to the homes and high-rises affected by the proposed boundary changes. The choice set for the Murch area, by the way, is Murch, Janney and Lafayette.
Policy Example C: Similar to Example B in preschool and elementary grades, similar to Example A for middle and high school.
Each Policy Example raises questions. With Example B, the Washington Post notes:
Children currently enrolled in a school are almost certainly going to be allowed to remain, [Deputy Mayor for Education Abigail] Smith has said. But are current students guaranteed the right to continue in their current feeder pattern? And what about younger siblings who haven’t yet enrolled?
The grandfathering question should also be asked for the other two examples. Say your child is attending Murch or Hearst now, and the new system adopted looks more like A and C. Would your child still feed into Deal and Wilson?
Another question, also addressed in the article above, applies to all three proposals: Once the final system is decided, will the next mayor allow it to take effect?
If you have a stake in this, or think you might in the future, please plan to attend tonight’s meeting for Upper Northwest and Northeast at Coolidge High School (see box above) or the meeting on the 24th.
Also, this Thursday, April 10th, ANC 3F commissioners are hosting an information session and discussion of the process. Commissioner Manolis Priniotakis says the goal of the meeting will be to provide clear information about what has been proposed, explain what the balance of the process will entail, and hear from the community about any concerns, questions or views that may exist regarding what the Advisory Committee has put forward so far.
The meeting will take place at the Methodist Home at 4901 Connecticut Ave NW from 5:30-7:30 p.m.