Housing Complex

Wards 5 and 7 Hit Hardest by School Closure Plans

The cat's out of the bag: D.C. Public Schools is targeting 20 schools for closure. DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson is expected to reveal the list publicly at 4 p.m. today.

The geographic distribution of the closures isn't equitable: There are five schools each in wards 5 and 7 on the list, and none in wards 1 or 3. (Shaw Middle School at Garnet-Patterson is physically located in Ward 1 but considered a Ward 6 school.) That's not a surprise, given a study commissioned by DCPS and released earlier this year showing poor performance and underenrollment in schools in wards 4, 5, 7, and 8. Take a look at this map from the report, showing the distribution of schools by "tier"—tiers 3 and 4 have low enrollment and poor performance:

Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander believes the heavy toll on her ward reflects misplaced priorities on the part of DCPS.

"My reaction is that I have concerns why our schools are so underenrolled and the perfomance outcomes are below par," she says. "It’s evident that the resources are not being put where they’re needed."

Rather than close the schools, she says, the city needs to tackle the issue of underenrollment at its root.

"Closing it is kind of like just shifting the problem to another place," she says. "It’s like when the police crack down on crime in one area and it just moves to another area."

Alexander attributes the higher enrollment numbers in wards 1 and 3 to schools that attract out-of-boundary students and retain students who live in the area, due to better resources. She wants to see those same resources in Ward 7 schools.

"There’s no reason for underenrollment in any school in Ward 7 when we have a large population of school-age children," she says.

I'm awaiting comment from DCPS and Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie and will update when I hear from them.

UPDATE: Here's DCPS's official list of the schools it plans to close, with a timeline and a list of the schools that will receive the students.

...