Good evening. My name is Kevin White and I am here to represent the 540 students at Watkins Elementary in Ward 6.
This winter was hard at Watkins. Frigid temperatures and windy polar vortices were challenging for our 50 year old windows and burdened heating system. Just last week, several classrooms spent instructional time and indoor recess in the hall because the classrooms were too cold with the wind coming through windows that are sealed and closed with duct tape.
We are relieved to have been allocated $1.5 million in FY 14 for the replacement of these windows. Window replacement is long overdue. But this should not give DCPS the false sense that the worst conditions at Watkins will have been addressed. While some emergency repairs have been completed since 2008, the Master Facility Plan from that time ranked 7 out of the 10 major building systems as Poor or Unsatisfactory. Additionally, reviewing the Education Specification for Watkins reveals that 85% of our classrooms are too small, our specials rooms are undersized by a factor of 32%, and we lack the multi-purpose/gymnasium space that should be provided to a school with over 500 students and a co-located DPR Rec Center.
The needs at Watkins are too substantial and too well-documented to be ignored or delayed further. Watkins can not be ignored while DCPS and DGS brag about Gold LEED status and geothermal technology at other schools. Watkins can not be ignored while DCPS considers investing supplemental capital resources in several schools that have already been modernized within the last 7 years. Meanwhile, the Capital Improvement Plan stretches out modernization for Watkins all the way to FY19. Phase 1 is projected to start in FY15 but we’ve been pushed back twice before. We can’t be pushed back again.
We are ready to work with the DCPS, DPR, and DGS to begin planning for our modernization. We have already created a parent-led modernization committee. We’ve reviewed the Ed Spec and completed our own building wide space survey. We are ready to partner with you and formally begin the planning process.
Watkins Can’t Wait for our new windows to be installed this summer. But, Watkins Can’t Wait even longer for our full modernization to begin. Thank you for your time.
Parent at the Capitol Hill Cluster School and
PTA Parent Representative at Watkins Elementary
521 14th Street, SE Washington, DC 20003
Fiscal Year 2015 Budget for Public Schools in the District of Columbia
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Cardozo Education Campus
1200 Clifton Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009