In today's Washington Post Emma Brown reveals plans by KIPP PCS to open a new high school in Southwest, D.C. The project involves the renovation of the Randall Recreation Center located approximately four blocks from Nationals Park. KIPP's Chief Executive Officer Susan Schaeffler explains to Ms. Brown the reason for opening the new campus:
“KIPP DC is always going to operate with a sense of urgency, because we’re on the front lines of trying to educate our city’s kids and reach as many kids as we can."
But some of our public officials are not thrilled with the move. “This is Exhibit A as to what happens when there’s no facilities planning with regard to public education," David Catania, Chair of the D.C. Council's Education Committee, complained to the Washington Post reporter. He is frustrated because the city is spending millions of dollars renovating DCPS high schools that are losing students to charters. KIPP leadership remarked that exisiting closed DCPS facilities did not fit their needs.
Mr. Catania, however, said that he is in support of the KIPP proposal because he says the nation's capital needs quality educational institutions. In other words, in an environment in which school choice has led to the creation of excellent products, there is nothing he can do.
Another Councilman not crazy about the plan is Tommy Wells, who represents the area where the school would be located. He objects because KIPP's currently enrolled students would get first pick as to whether to attend the high school. Because there is no neighborhood preference for admission to charters those living close to the site would have to enter a lottery for available seats once a waitlist develops.
But my prediction is that in the end he will get behind the new venture because of his desire to provide children with academically high performing seats. Again, there is really nothing he can do.