We in ANC 2F believe that strong public schools are the foundation of a vibrant community. In support of that goal, we passed the following resolution at our May meeting calling on the Mayor and City Council to modernize Garrison Elementary School in the Fiscal Year 2014 budget. The text of the resolution is below:
Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) were created to “advise the Council of the District of Columbia, the Mayor and each executive agency . . . with respect to all proposed matters of District government policy,” including with respect to education;
Garrison Elementary School is within the boundaries of ANC 2F, and DCPS designates many families in our ANC to Garrison as their school of right;
The Logan Circle Community has worked to make our neighborhood a place where families want to stay and raise their children, and Garrison, as an important part of developing a strong feeder system, is essential to that goal;
In the past three years, parents have re-established a PTA, developed strong partnerships with local community organizations, reached out to prospective parents, and worked with DCPS to improve the school;
The PTA and community have greatly improved maintenance services at the school and grounds through constant vigilance, volunteer efforts, and consistent advocacy;
The Logan Circle neighborhood has seen significant population increases over the last several years, and DCPS projects the neighborhood will increase by at least 125 children by 2015. Indeed, 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;
Retaining these current and anticipated families is essential to our community’s continued growth and stability;
Garrison is in desperate need of capital investment. As recognized in the 2010 Master Facilities Plan:
- “Many interior spaces are in need of renovations”;
- “Ceiling finishes are in poor condition. Asbestos tile is present throughout and needs to be removed”;
- “Public address and fire alarm systems are antiquated and require replacement”;
- [Plumbing] Fixtures are outdated and should be replaced;
- “Wooden exterior doors need to be replaced and all exterior windows have deteriorated and need to be replaced”;
- ADA compliance is “unsatisfactory” and the building “needs numerous upgrades in order to accomplish [compliance]”;
The school has not undergone a single renovation since it opened in 1964;
Garrison has an educational facilities effectiveness (EFEI) score of 36 percent according to the 2013 Master Facilities Plan—one of the lowest in the District—and is one of the only public schools in the area (DCPS or charter) that has not been partially or fully modernized;
The Master Facilities Plan recommends complete, rather than phased-in, school modernizations;
Professional pro bono services and non-DCPS funds have been secured to defray the costs of modernization, and the PTA and community stand ready to further assist;
The modernization at Garrison has been delayed three times in the last three years, and the Mayor’s current proposed budget anticipates starting the renovation in 2015, with completion in 2022—9 years away; and
Capital investment in Garrison has been too often postponed and is long overdue. To meet population growth in Logan Circle are and to ensure the diversity, vitality and coherence of the community, we urgently need our community school Garrison modernized.
Therefore, be it resolved that
ANC 2F advises and strongly recommends that the City Council appropriate $16 million to fully fund Garrison’s modernization in Fiscal Year 2014 to allow for a complete, one-time modernization.
 D.C. Code § 1-309.10(a).
 See DCPS Proposed Consolidations and Reorganization at p. 33 (Nov. 15, 2012), available at
 2013 Public Education Master Facilities Plan at p. 55, available at http://dc.gov/DC/DME/Media%20Releases/newsroom_archive/Press%20Releases/Final%202013%20DC%20Public%20Education%20Plan.pdf.
 Id. at 87, Figure 5.30.
 Master Facilities Plan at p. 120.
 The total proposed modernization budget of Garrison is $16.2 million: $8.1 mm to be spent in 2015, $6.1 mm in 2019, and $2 million by 2022.
Please join ANC 2F, ANC 2B, the Logan Circle Community Association (LCCA), and the Dupont Circle Citizens Association (DCCA) for a special joint meeting on Education on Saturday, May 11 from 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. at Luther Place Memorial Church, 1226 Vermont Avenue, NW (Thomas Circle).
We are excited to have Abigail Smith, the Acting Deputy Mayor for Education, join us. The Deputy Mayor is responsible for overseeing the District’s education strategy and DC’s education-related agencies, including DC Public Schools (DCPS) and the Office of the State Superintendent for Education (OSSE).
We will also have updates on important ANC, LCCA, and DCCA community news and activities.
Come out and meet your elected representatives and education officials, learn about issues that impact your community, and get to know your neighbors better. LCCA and DCCA have graciously agreed to provide refreshments and free childcare on site, so kids are welcome!
We hope to see you Saturday!
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. 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.” 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. 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. 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. 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.
 As a complete modernization according to the strategy recommendations in the 2013 Public Education Master Facilities Plan, and not a phased modernization.
 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.
 Id. at p. 55, Figure 4.7 (For Cluster 7—Shaw and Logan Circle).
 Id. at pp. 80, 84, and 115, Figures 5.23, 5.27, and 7.1.
 Id. at 87, Figure 5.30.
I just received an email from the co-chair of our Education Committee, Evelyn Boyd Simmons, stating only the three words in that headline.
Garrison Elementary School has apparently been spared closure, as had been proposed by D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson. (UPDATE: Here is the announcement.)
Any way you sliced it, there was no way Garrison deserved to be on the closure list. Within moments of Henderson’s proposal, a groundswell began that was propelled by the same people who had been fighting to improve Garrison long beforehand. ANC 2F was proud to partner with them to make our case, repeatedly and in detail.
I attended a meeting with Henderson a few weeks ago and asked her point-blank: She had been taking pains to note that the public input she was seeking was not just a kabuki dance (my term, not hers). She had been asking for solutions, not just rallies. We offered compelling arguments, statistics and–yes–solutions. In the final analysis, if she followed through on the closure of Garrison, would she be able to look us in the eye and tell us that she was truly listening?
At the time, she assured me she would be able to say exactly that. While I await details, it turns out that she was true to her word, and I applaud her for that.
UPDATE: More details from WaPo. The list of 20 was ultimately pared down to 15. Ward 2′s Francis-Stevens was also spared.
From the article:
“Garrison will stay open in part because of parents’ commitment to help recruit new students and in part because of demographic information showing that the school’s Logan Circle neighborhood is growing faster than officials previously understood, Henderson said.
“Francis-Stevens Education Campus will remain open, the chancellor said, because its extra space will be filled by an expansion of the city’s selective School Without Walls. And Johnson Middle School will stay open because of safety concerns.”
Yep. She listeneed.
Commissioners from ANC 2F today announced their opposition to the proposed closure of Garrison Elementary School in a letter to Mayor Vincent Gray and D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson.
In a shocking move, Henderson announced her proposal at 4 p.m. on Nov. 13 to close Garrison and 19 other schools. Adding insult to injury, the deadline for citizens to sign up to testify against the closures was set for just one hour after the announcement was made.
“The Proposal to close Garrison undermines DCPS’s stated goals of the consolidation and reorganization, which include meeting ‘the diverse needs’ of students, and creating ‘flexible’ schools, by ‘allowing for population growth and shifts and always ensuring that students have high-quality schools in their neighborhood as well as out-of-boundary options,’” the letter stated. ”In addition, closing Garrison will undo the community’s efforts over the last several years to improve the school, and it ignores the important role Garrison plays in our neighborhood.”
The letter goes on to say that Garrison is indeed diverse and is “already a neighborhood school … that is two-thirds full with 60 percent of the students coming from the local community.” The letter also states that the booming Logan Circle neighborhood will soon push Garrison toward full capacity, and that Seaton Elementary School, into which Garrison would be consolidated, doesn’t have enough room.
The letter points to intensive work over the past three years to improve Garrison, including the re-establishment of a PTA. ”After three years of hard work led by parents and community members, and with new school leadership appointed less than three months ago, many essential elements are now in place to steepen Garrison’s trajectory to becoming one of the top schools in the District,” the letter said.
The letter was signed by ANC 2F Chairman Mike Benardo, Vice Chairman Matt Raymond, Commissioner Charles Reed, and Commissioner Matt Connolly. The letter states that they were signing in their individual capacities, because the swiftness of the proposal meant that the commission will have to wait until its next meeting on Dec. 5 to weigh in with a formal vote.
You can read the full text of the letter here.
Evelyn Boyd Simmons, chair of ANC 2F’s Education Committee, testified today at the second of two City Council hearings into the matter.
“As elected officials, you understand the importance of staying ahead of demographic shifts and neighborhood dynamics. I fear that DCPS, sadly, has become de-coupled from communities,” her prepared testimony stated.
“I sincerely hope DCPS will reconsider its proposal and work with Garrison and others to strengthen our schools and develop stable and viable feeder patterns that give all our students access to a quality education.”
Her full testimony can be found here.
According to coverage in The Washington Post, in response to intense community opposition to closing Garrison, Henderson said in today’s Council hearing that “I want to make sure that this is not a case of the squeaky wheel gets the grease.”
Logan Circle and surrounding neighborhoods that count on Garrison aren’t squeaking, they’re roaring. It’s time that policymakers listened, rather than trying to shove through an ill-conceived proposal under cover of darkness.
UPDATE: Garrison supporters are encouraging people to sign a petition at Change.org.
Councilmember Jack Evans and Acting Chancellor Kaya Henderson will be holding a Ward 2 “State of the Schools” event on Tuesday, June 7, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Garrison Elementary School.
According to the organizers, “The purpose of this event is to strengthen partnerships between DCPS, our families and our community, by opening lines of communication to discuss new strategies for helping children achieve success.”
The event will include a schools expo and discussions with principals and PTA leaders.
ANC 2F has made education a higher priority in recent months
See the full invitation here, in PDF form.
What is your role in school reform?
Ward 2 State of the Schools Event
Tuesday, June 7 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
@ Garrison Elementary School
Ward 2 Residents,
Take the first step in working to improve your neighborhood schools by joining Councilmember Jack Evans and Acting Chancellor Kaya Henderson at the Ward 2 State of the Schools event. The purpose of this event is to strengthen partnerships between DCPS, our families and our community, by opening lines of communication to discuss new strategies for helping children achieve success.
Participate in the Ward 2 school expo where you will have the opportunity to speak directly with Ward 2 principals and learn more about your neighborhood schools.
Additionally, we are inviting you to share your ideas on how to improve Ward 2 schools through roundtable discussions with DCPS Leadership in the areas of:
- • Academic Standards and Rigor
- • Extracurricular Activities and Programming
- • School Culture and Classroom Management
The Ward 2 State of the Schools meeting will take place on Tuesday, June 7th from 5:30pm to 8:30pm at Garrison Elementary School, located at 1200 S Street, NW.
Refreshments will be served during this event and free childcare service will be provided. Additionally, Spanish interpreters will be on hand.
For more information, contact Bryant Sewell at 202-719-6614.
We are hearing from more and more constituents who have interest in or are concerned about education issues in our neighborhoods. If the growing numbers of strollers and young faces on our streets are any indication, it’s a feeling that is shared by many more residents. As education reforms move forward in the District, it’s more crucial than ever that we have a voice in charting the future course of schools in our community. We also want to keep our community vibrant by ensuring that fewer parents feel they need to move to the suburbs in order for their children to get a quality education.
That’s why ANC2F and the Logan Circle Community Association are holding a special joint meeting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 1., at the Washington Plaza Hotel (on Thomas Circle).
At our monthly meeting on Nov. 3, the ANC also amended its bylaws to establish a standing Education Committee, which is chaired energetically by Evelyn Boyd Simmons. If you would like to learn more about the committee or get involved, contact us here at this website.
And turn out, if you can, at our Dec. 1 meeting!