Over the weekend the editors of the Washington Post expressed their disgust over the lack of support Mayor Gray is providing regarding a proposal by KIPP PCS to open a new high school in Southwest D.C. The piece points out that KIPP is not asking for public money for this project as the charter plans to raise an estimated $40 million from private sources. What makes this non-action especially egregious, according to the Post editors, is what the city is currently spending on DCPS high schools.
"Even more illogical is how the District blithely justifies spending tens of millions of dollars to rebuild or restore underenrolled high schools (Cardozo, $119 million; Ballou, $112 million; Roosevelt, $127 million) while doing little to help a school where students excel, where someone else is willing to pay and where there is high demand from parents.
Washington Latin PCS, whose board I chair, is currently renovating the old Rudolph Elementary in Ward 4. At full capacity we will house about 650 students at this PMF Tier 1 middle and high school. However, we have received over 900 applications for next year for slightly less than 100 seats. Therefore, we could have probably doubled the existing 75,000 square feet and had little difficulty filling the space. But under current charter school economics this is impossible. We have borrowed $16 million to repair the thoroughly dilapidated building we were awarded, and will spend the absolute maximum we could have been loaned in the commercial market based upon our enrollment and a $3,000 per child facility allotment.
This town will never reach the dream the providing all D.C. students with a quality education unless something drastically changes.