Housing Complex

City Releases Revised Overhaul of School Boundaries


The high school assignment map released last night

Two months after releasing a radical set of proposals to overhaul the city's school assignment policies that had many parents worried, city officials have settled on a more moderate redrawing of school boundaries and a simplification of the pathways between them.

The draft proposal unveiled last night by the Advisory Committee on School Assignment, led by Deputy Mayor for Education Abigail Smith, would largely retain the city's system of school boundaries and feeders, while making it less porous and confusing. As the proposal notes, under the current system, 22 percent of D.C. public school students have the right to attend multiple schools. This proposal would create a simple map of elementary school zones, with each student attending the school in his or her zone and then moving on to the middle and high school to which the elementary school is assigned.

That differs strongly from two of the three proposals released in April, one of which would have given each student multiple elementary and middle school options and the other of which would have created a citywide lottery for high school, abolishing any sense of certainty. The third proposal, dubbed Policy Option B, was similar to the proposal released last night, with a few key differences in school boundaries.

Many parents will no doubt find the latest proposal a relief after the uproar over the earlier drafts. Families that live in-boundary for highly regarded schools, like Wilson High School in Tenleytown, will retain their automatic right to attend those schools. And certain neighborhoods will remain tied to popular schools that aren't necessarily geographically logical. Families in Mount Pleasant who attend Bancroft Elementary School, for example, will continue to be able to go to Alice Deal Middle School and Wilson High School, even though Mount Pleasant is separated from most of the rest of the Deal and Wilson boundaries by Rock Creek Park. Likewise, students who attend the middle school at Oyster-Adams in Woodley Park, who under the earlier Policy Option B would have been moved from Wilson to lower-performing Cardozo High School, will retain the right to attend overcrowded Wilson.

The elementary and middle school assignment map

The elementary and middle school assignment map

But parents in other neighborhoods are likely to continue putting up a fight. Much of the Southwest quadrant, previously in boundary for Wilson, has been reassigned to Eastern High School on Capitol Hill. The Crestwood neighborhood, currently able to attend Wilson, has been moved to struggling Roosevelt High School in Petworth.

Roosevelt could be a major beneficiary of the changes. The proposal would reopen the recently shuttered MacFarland Middle School adjacent to Roosevelt, absorbing graduates of elementary schools like the rapidly improving Powell nearby. That could provide a pipeline of successful and motivated students into a high school that has posted among the worst test scores in the city.

The changes would begin for new students—those who just moved to their neighborhood, who are coming to DCPS from charter schools, or who are beginning their first year at a school—in the 2015-2016 school year. Students and their siblings who were already enrolled at their in-boundary school but have been rezoned to a new school will have the option of attending either.

The proposal sets aside 10 percent of seats at elementary schools, as well as 10 percent of seats in the first grade of middle and high school (sixth and ninth, respectively), for out-of-boundary students, with priority given to students with a sibling at the school, "at-risk" students, and certain students who live nearby.

The plan calls for another comprehensive review of student assignment policies in 2022, and every 10 years thereafter. And the current plan, as the committee takes pains to indicate, still isn't final.

"This preliminary proposal represents our best effort to find solutions based on an enormous amount of data and public input," the committee writes. "We release these draft recommendations knowing full well they are not perfect. In particular, we seek additional public feedback on the proposed boundary changes and feeder pathways."

There are three upcoming public meetings where parents and community members can provide their feedback:

  • June 16th6 – 8PM, Savoy Elementary School, 2400 Shannon Place, SE
  • June 17th6 – 8PM, Dunbar High School, 101 N Street, NW
  • June 19th6 – 8PM, Takoma Education Campus, 7010 Piney Branch Road, NW
  • Wreckfish

    Is there a way to see where exactly these boundaries are? The maps are very unspecific.

  • MikenotIke

    This is better than the earlier proposals, but the out of boundary set asides for elementary schools are a non-starter.

  • sbc

    On the DME's website, there are maps of the boundaries for each school. That gives a lot more detail.

  • TakomaNick

    Shepherd Park and Colonial Village should feed to Coolidge. They area east of the park and it makes sense. Coolidge will need those wealthy in boundary areas to improve. However, I don't think that should happen until after Coolidge is remodeled. It needs improvements on par with Wilson and Roosevelt. Neighborhoods shouldn't be added to that district until that happens.

  • TakomaNick

    Wreckfish: Here's the link to detailed maps for each school: http://dme.dc.gov/page/advisory-committee-draft-proposal-and-boundaries-june-2014

    The maps also show how each district is changing.

  • Some Ideas

    That neighborhood has been assigned to Deal and Wilson for years now. Moving is Shepherd Park and Colonial Village to Coolidge is a political NON-STARTER. Think of how may Ward 4 and city-wide politicians plus DC agency executive staff that live up there...ain't going to happen.

  • taco power

    So Mt. Pleasant gets an exemption to still feed into Deal/Wilson, but the areas immediately north of it that used to - Crestwood and east of 16th St to 14th - don't? How does that make any sense? Wouldn't it be more reasonable to send the Mt. Pleasant kids to Columbia Heights and the Crestwood/16th St kids to Wilson?

  • Tbonebullets

    @ taco power: neither Mt. Pleasant nor Crestwood nor anything east of 16th Street should feed to Wilson, if logic were the sole guide for DME's decision-making. It's a long haul over there in morning traffic.

  • Michael

    Can someone please explain these boundaries !

    1 Why does Eastern cover Downtown DC & SW when Dunbar is closer

    2 Why is Woodson boundaries so small compared to the others

    2 Why are parts of SE Washington near East Capitol Street boundary for Anacostia when Eastern would be miles closer

    What they should be is the following

    Coolidge covering the top the corner of the city going straight across

    Roosevelt extended eastward from where it is to Eastern Ave

    Cardozo should be everything between Wisconsin Ave, 9th Street, Columbia Heights & P Street

    Dunbar should cover all of downtown until 8th Street NE

    Eastern should cover 8th Street NE to Benning Rd east of the River and from I Street SE to Bladensburg RD & New York Ave

    SW should be split between Ballou, Anacostia, Dunbar & Eastern

  • drez

    Eff this.

  • Jasper

    John Eaton has also been assigned to Deal forever and the proposed assignment is to a lower performing middle school. This, too, would seem to be a political non-starter. At least it is a basis for lots of people to challenge their tax assessments, which is the one thing DC listens to!

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