Collecting Input on Potential Ward 4 North Middle School

This post breaks down the details of the potential Ward 4 Middle School opening. One important note is that if the middle school is opened, it wouldn’t happen until School Year 2019-2020. Not this year, the next year, or the year after that. Current third graders at the feeder education campuses would be the first sixth graders if opened.

Background

In 2014, the Deputy Mayor for Education’s office recommended the opening of a new middle school in Ward 4 (New North) as part of its final boundary and feeder assignment recommendations.  This recommendation would open a new middle school in northern Ward 4, converting the four education campuses that currently feed into Coolidge to elementary schools (PK-5th grade instead of PK-8th grade). Those schools are Brightwood, Whittier, Lasalle-Backus, and Takoma Education Campuses.

Two driving factors behind this recommendation were parent/community input and the space constraints at the four education campuses. During the boundary and feeder recommendation community engagement process, parents and community members expressed desire for more stand-alone middle school options, giving both elementary and middle school students more of a traditional elementary and middle school experience. In addition, the education campuses feeding into Coolidge are facing the challenge of growing enrollment that is approaching the capacity in their buildings. Opening a middle school and moving the middle grades there would relieve some of that pressure.

Opportunity

One of the biggest challenges in opening this potential middle school has been securing the space and capital funding to build it. The upcoming modernization of Coolidge High School is an opportunity to have both the space and funding for a middle school, by including a middle school build in the scope of the work being done on Coolidge. There is both money in Coolidge’s modernization budget of roughly $160 million, and space on Coolidge’s south lawn (see below) for middle school construction. In the recently completed feasibility study for Coolidge’s modernization, two of the three options include the construction of a middle school.

coolidge-south-lawn   The Coolidge campus has sufficient space in its south lawn to construct a middle school.

middle-school-renderingArchitect rendering from feasibility study of possible middle school build south of Coolidge High School building.

Gathering Input

In addition to securing space and budget, another important piece in the decision on whether to open a middle school is parent, staff, and community input — do the parents at Brightwood, Whittier, Lasalle-Backus, and Takoma Education Campuses want a stand-alone middle school? Do the teachers and staff? Community members living in the Coolidge boundary? We on the School Planning Team have been working to answer those questions since last spring, with parent meetings, student focus groups, regular Coolidge Community Working Group meetings, and a survey we put out to parents and staff at Coolidge feeder schools.

As the DCPS Facilities Team collects feedback on the Coolidge feasibility study, the Planning Team will continue to analyze enrollment and academic data and meet with Coolidge Community Members, particularly parents from Coolidge’s four feeder education campuses: Lasalle-Backus, Brightwood, Takoma, and Whittier. DCPS will need to make a final decision on the potential middle school by late fall in order to stay on track with Coolidge’s construction timeline. We’ve met with parents at Brightwood and Whittier already, and have upcoming meetings at Lasalle-Backus (10/6) and Takoma (10/20). We are also meeting with school staff along with regular meetings with the Coolidge Community Working Group.

whittierWhittier parents discussing potential middle school and building modernization.lbec1lbec2                                     Lasalle-Backus families filling out the survey at Back to School night

If you’d like to weigh in, please click on the relevant survey link for your language. The results of our survey up to 9/21/16 are below.

Ward 4 North Middle School Survey – English and Spanish

Ward 4 North Middle School Survey – French

Ward 4 North Middle School Survey – Amharic

w4nms-survey-digest-1w4nms-survey-digest-2

Ron Brown HS Speakers Series

RBHS Speakers Series

Ron Brown College Preparatory High School will launch a weekly speakers series as part of its College and Career Exploration Program.  It is designed around the three core pillars of the school – to develop a young man’s character, academic curiosity, and service toward his community.

Sign up to share your story by visiting http://bit.ly/RBHSspeaker, emailing rbhs.speaker@dc.gov, or calling 202-729-4343.

rbhs-speaker-series

Ron Brown HS June Meeting

Ron Brown HS June Meeting

Cabinet members heard updates on the school’s enrollment, facilities, and hiring plans, learned about DCPS’ 500 for 500 mentoring program in order to apply lessons learned when considering RBHS’ mentoring program concept, and provided feedback on the role of the Community Cabinet moving forward.

6-20-16-rbhs-community-cabinet-meeting-minutes

 

Coolidge Community Working Group Reviews Feasibility Study

The Coolidge Community Working Group met last week to review the feasibility study for Coolidge’s building modernization, providing feedback on three different options for the modernization. The three options are for a comprehensive high school, and two different possibilities for a potential middle school on Coolidge’s grounds at 5th and Sheridan. Stay tuned to the planning blog for more on the potential middle school option.

See below for meeting notes and the full feasibility study.

Coolidge Feasibility Study

Coolidge Working Group – Feasibility Study Review Meeting Notes

DCPS Dual Language Planning

Over the past two months, the DCPS Planning Team has been meeting with stakeholders to discuss dual language in DCPS and possible ways to expand programming in the future. We’re meeting with parents, community members, school leaders, and dual language advocates to hear thoughts on what’s working, what’s not, and where DCPS should go next with dual language.

Last year we worked to open three new dual language programs at Roosevelt High School, MacFarland Middle School, and Houston Elementary School, making 11 total in DCPS. Still, we continue to hear demand from parents for more bilingual programs in more languages across the city. While we are not able to open a new dual language program at every school we hear support for it, our goal for this process is to develop a plan for expanding bilingual programming in a more systematic way over multiple years. This plan should lead to increased equity of access to dual language programs across the city and more complete feeder patterns, while taking into account the input of our stakeholders over the coming months.

We plan to continue engaging with folks over the coming months and develop some initial recommendations for next steps in late October/early November. Please see below for the presentation we used at a recent meeting with leaders of ward education concils, and as always, reach out to us with any questions or comments at DCPS.Planning@dc.gov.

DCPS Dual Language Planning