D.C. Public Schools Closings: Chancellor Kaya Henderson Announces 20 Targeted For Closure

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Twenty D.C. Public Schools have been targeted for closure before the next school year, Chancellor Kaya Henderson announced Tuesday.

Per the Washington City Paper’s “Loose Lips” blog, the closing schools include a list of elementary and middle schools. One high school, Spingarn High School in Ward 5, is also targeted.

Henderson had previously indicated she would be singling out under-enrolled schools. According to NBC Washington, a report commissioned by Mayor Vincent Gray earlier this year found that the D.C. public school system had more than enough seats for students, but not nearly enough spots in high-performing schools. The report recommended closing low-performing schools.

“We have 123 schools that are not currently configured to meet the needs of our young people," Henderson said, according to DCist, adding that D.C. currently has 123 schools in 117 buildings serving just over 45,000 students, compared to over over 180,000 students in 196 schools in Fairfax County. She said operating the city’s existing schools has been diverting money away from teachers and programming.

NBC Washington reports the proposal to close the 20 schools must now be approved by Gray. In the meantime, there are two council hearings and four community hearings scheduled, during which parents and community leaders will have the opportunity to voice concerns.

Students in the 20 designated schools will be reassigned for the start of the next school year, which begins in Fall 2013. The only exceptions are Share Health School and Mamie D. Lee School, which will close and send students to other schools in 2014.

According to Henderson, once the 20 schools are closed and their students sent to nearby campuses, average school enrollment will increase from 376 to 432 and building utilization will rise from 72 to 84 percent, DCist reports.

This marks the second round of closures in the last four years; in 2008, then-Chancellor Michelle Rhee shuttered 23 schools.

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