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DC Council Education Committee Budget Hearing – Testimony by Mary Melchoir, CHM at Logan EC

Happy Thursday council members, staff and fellow citizens. My name is Mary Melchior. I am a resident of Brookland in ward 5 and have three 6th grade boys at the Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan.  Our school is adding a grade each year expanding up to 8th grade creating the first adolescent Montessori program in DC.

 

As a member of the ward five council on education we struggled for years after our community middle school was closed and our elementary schools were converted to PK-8 campuses to see our schools get the basic facility components. These schools were left without labs, or basic middle school offerings for years.

 

It seems in approving the middle grades program at Logan DCPS is repeating the same mistakes. No funding has been provided to update the building our middle graders will be using. No science lab, no technology, no basics. Just two years ago $147,000 was spent to renovate this same building to house the School within a School program.  This was always intended to be a temporary facility for them.  Now there are zero dollars to upgrade that same building for middle grade students for a program intended to be a permanent expansion.

 

My family has become the disheartening example for our school community. We chose to stay at Logan due to the strength of the program, staff and teachers and DCPS’s stated commitment to our middle grades program. We did not move to our guaranteed slot at Stuart-Hobson, or other options at McKinley tech middle school or a charter. Now they have pulled the rug out from under us. The building renovation is cancelled, our guarantee to spots at Stuart Hobson are gone, McKinley we are wait listed, middle grades charters largely don’t accept 7th graders. Our choice is gone and we are pointed to by other families at Logan that we can’t trust the city and DCPS to provide just the basics for our students.

 

It also speaks to the general mismanagement of school renovations since mayoral control.  The IG did a report outlining much of it under Mayor Fenty but I think many of the same problems exist.  The original Master Facilities Plan assessed the condition of buildings and planned their renovations due to basic conditions, worst buildings first.  Now we have a standard of the order of school renovations is a matter of mayoral whim.  There may be standards, but they are not explained and the public has no input. The MFP also planned to keep a number of our closed schools in inventory until after the major renovations were finished.  That would have allowed the system to do long term planning and avoid rush costs in renovations by moving students to another building for the year a building was renovated.  Not doing this has not served the taxpayer or DCPS, and the cost increases due to turning these buildings over to charters rather than use them as swing spaces are used as a reason to indicate that charters should get more facilities money.    Also SITs are formed too late to do proper planning leading to projects having large cost overruns and probably not the best designs for their purpose.  Thank you very much for your consideration.

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Testimony of

Mary Melchior

Parent at Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan Education Campus

Education Budget Oversight Hearing

Thursday, April 17, 2014  10:00 a.m.

John A. Wilson Building, Room 500

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