Why is DCPS opening a new middle school in Ward 4?
In 2014 the DC Advisory Committee on Student Assignment, which was a group of residents, parents and community stakeholders, came together to review student assignment, boundaries and feeder patterns. After a nine month process of gathering input and feedback from all 8 wards with about 1,500 residents in focus groups, working groups and community meetings, they presented a set of recommendations to DCPS.
One of these recommendations included opening a new middle school in Ward 4. This recommendation and other factors behind this decision are summarized below.
- 3 of the 4 education campuses that currently feed into Coolidge High School: LaSalle-Backus EC, Takoma EC and Brightwood EC are near capacity or are already over capacity.
- In a recent strategic regional analysis DCPS helped conduct with the DC Office of Planning, some of the highest population growth in the city is expected in the neighborhoods of Brightwood Park, Takoma and Manor Park over the next 7 years.
- In a 2016 survey of 150 parents and school staff from the education campuses, 90% of parents and 90% of staff recommended moving forward with the 2014 recommendation to open a new middle school.
- Early childhood is in high demand. As of September 2017, there were over 70 in-boundary families on a waitlist to enroll in either PK3 or PK4. DCPS can offer more seats with the space created after the MS transition.
What is the schedule for the opening of the new middle school?
The new middle school will open in SY19-20 with a 6th grade class and will add a grade each year until it becomes a full middle school in SY21-22. Students currently enrolled in 5th grade and above will graduate from their education campus while students who are in 4th grade and younger will have the right to attend the new middle school.
Who can attend the new middle school?
Families who currently live in the boundaries for LaSalle-Backus EC, Takoma EC, Whittier EC and Brightwood EC will have the right to send their child to the new middle school and will simply need to enroll starting in spring 2019. There is no additional criteria to enroll such as an application or testing.
What will the new middle school be named? Where will it be located?
The new middle school will be located on the campus of the newly modernized Coolidge High School on the corner of 5th ST NW and Sheridan ST NW. It will open in August 2019. The official name of the new middle school has not yet been determined. In the interim, the school will be unofficially referred to as ‘Coolidge MS’ or ‘New North MS’. The naming decision will be led by an extensive process of gathering ideas and feedback with the education campus communities in accordance with the DCPS policy governing the naming of new schools.
How has DCPS collected input from school communities including teachers, parents and school leaders?
DCPS has worked to engage many groups and stakeholders throughout Ward 4 to gather feedback and input following the work of the DC Advisory Committee on Student Assignment. See below for a summary of where we’ve been. As we move into 2018, the school planning team is looking forward to continuing the dialog and gathering input.
Why is DCPS doing a phased opening starting with a 6th grade?
DCPS considered multiple ideas on how to go about creating the best timeline for opening a new middle school. There was broad consensus among Principals that new school openings are best done by starting with one grade and growing by a new grade each year. This helps build a unified school culture. This is also less of a recruitment burden to hire staff and recruit students when building a new school one grade at a time. We also heard it’s important for current middle school students to have the opportunity to graduate from their education campus rather than moving to a new school while they are in middle school. Because of this phased approached beginning with 6th grade, students will transition to middle school at the end of the elementary grades as opposed to transitioning while in a middle school grade.
What will the new middle school offer?
DCPS is working to create programming at the new middle school that will help create a pipeline for a newly redesigned Coolidge High School that will launch in SY19-20. Families can expect programming that will help students prepare to enter one of the three academies at the relaunched Coolidge High School: Health Sciences, Mass Media and Early College.
If have any feedback, or additional questions or concerns, then who should I contact?
Please feel free to reach out to Brian Alexander on the School Planning team: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow @DCPSPlanning and @BAlexanderLeads on twitter for updates.