Now Is the Time to Modernize Garrison Elementary

This morning parents, community members, and I urged the City Council’s Education Committee to finally fully modernize Garrison Elementary.  These improvements are long overdue.  Garrison has not been renovated since it opened in the 1960s, and modernization has been delayed at least three times.  DCPS’s proposal to finish improvements by 2022 is simply inadequate.  My testimony is below:

Councilmember Catania, I want to thank you again for speaking at the ANC’s education committee meeting last month.  As you probably remember, our conversation focused on bringing a sense of urgency to public education reform, and the understanding that parents and community members shouldn’t have to work this hard to get a quality public education.

It is with both of these issues in mind that I am here today to request that the City Council fully fund the modernization of Garrison Elementary School in FY 2015.[1]  Garrison has not been renovated since it opened in the 1960s, and the school’s modernization has now been delayed at least three times.  As recognized in the 2013 Public Education Master Facilities Plan issued by the Deputy Mayor for Education, “[f]acility condition and quality affect the safety and comfort of students and educators and can limit programming.  They may also influence parent and student perception about school quality.”[2]  This is especially true in my ANC and at Garrison.

According to the Master Facilities Plan, the population of 3 to 11 year olds in the area immediately surrounding Garrison will nearly double by 2017, and grow by another third by 2022.[3]  Despite this population growth, the Facilities Plan determined that our cluster receives among the fewest dollars per enrolled student, our facilities condition ranks among the lowest in the District, and it is among the clusters with the greatest need for strategic investment.[4]  These already poor numbers are even worse at Garrison, which has an educational facilities effectiveness (EFEI) score of 36 percent—one of the lowest in the District.[5]  In fact, Garrison is one of the only public schools in our cluster (DCPS or charter) that has not been partially or fully modernized.

We believe retaining families is essential to our community’s continued growth and stability and we are working hard to make sure that Garrison is a school we in Logan Circle and the District can all be proud of.  But Garrison needs capital investment in order to thrive.  Prospective parents will not invest in a school if DCPS is unwilling to invest with them.  Failing to invest in Garrison now could mean that we and DCPS will miss out on our neighborhood’s booming population of elementary aged school children.  Parents demand urgency:  They will not wait and see what happens in 2022, when the current modernization proposal is expected to be completed (likely even longer given the trend in the last four years).  By then these parents will have moved to a different neighborhood, out of the district, or will have found another school.

We are not asking for a brand new building or gold-plated facilities.  All we ask is for some urgent maintenance work on a school that hasn’t been renovated since the 1960s, and a commitment to start a modernization that will allow current and prospective parents to invest in a vision for their neighborhood school.  We believe these commitments, along with the demolition of the old pool house and athletic field improvements (which we expect to begin this summer), will show the community that the City and DCPS will engage with Garrison the way parents and community members already have.


[1] As a complete modernization according to the strategy recommendations in the 2013 Public Education Master Facilities Plan, and not a phased modernization.

[2] 2013 Public Education Master Facilities Plan at p. 30, available at http://dc.gov/DC/DME/Media%20Releases/newsroom_archive/Press%20Releases/Final%202013%20DC%20Public%20Education%20Plan.pdf.

[3] Id. at p. 55, Figure 4.7 (For Cluster 7—Shaw and Logan Circle).

[4] Id. at pp. 80, 84, and 115, Figures 5.23, 5.27, and 7.1.

[5] Id. at 87, Figure 5.30.

 

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