The following was send to Councilmembers Mendelson, Evans, Brown with copies to CHPSPO members on May 25, 2011.
Vote Against the Proposal to Divide Wards 6 and 7 at 17th Street from Benning Road to Barney Circle
As members of the Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization (CHPSPO), we are voicing our extreme concern about the D.C. Council’s consideration of the proposal to divide Wards 6 and 7 at 17th Street from Benning Road to Barney Circle which would effectively move Eliot-Hine Middle School and Eastern High School from Ward 6 to Ward 7. We are opposed to this move because of the impact it would have on our neighborhood cohesiveness and the community’s efforts to strengthen our neighborhood public schools.
CHPSPO started over six years ago, at a time when some Capitol Hill public elementary schools were bursting at the seams and others were woefully under-enrolled. A group of active parents from each school joined together to share common concerns and great accomplishments. It quickly became clear that our shared interests far exceeded any superficial differences. CHPSPO has established a strong record of working to support our neighborhood’s schools. The School Libraries Project, a $2.4 million public/private partnership with the DC Public Schools that renovated eight public school libraries on Capitol Hill was CHPSPO’s first success at supporting our neighborhood schools. This was followed by efforts to start 3 and 4-year-old programs at our elementary schools, and most recently a proposal to strengthen the middle schools. DCPS has said they want to replicate the community-driven process started by CHPSPO in wards across the city.
With the success of our elementary and middle schools and the renovation of Eastern, the Ward 6 public schools are becoming the schools of choice for families in Ward 6. Currently, many of the Ward 6 elementary schools feed into Eliot-Hine Middle School and then to Eastern High School. Splitting up Ward 6 would create a misalignment between the school feeder patterns and the political oversight of the schools.
Building on the academic gains Eliot-Hine has achieved, under the leadership of Principal Willie Jackson, is the cornerstone of CHPSPO’s — now DCPS’s — Ward 6 Middle Schools Plan. Our neighborhood schools have become a community. Drawing a political line at 17th Street removes Eliot-Hine and Eastern from our community at the very moment that our success at the elementary level is poised to spread into Eliot-Hine and Eastern High School.
We strongly encourage the D.C. City Council to keep the close, successful community that is Ward 6 intact and look to other less drastic solutions to realign the city’s ward structure. This proposed redistricting undermines the democratic representation we deserve and expect, and jeopardizes the progress being made to attract families back to the DC public schools.
Signed by the following on 5/24/11
Suzanne Wells, Tyler Elementary School
George Blackmon, Maury Elementary School
Elizabeth D. Festa, Maury Elementary School
Sandra Moscoso, Montessori @ Watkins/Logan
Rachel Klein, Ludlow Taylor Elementary School
Sherry Trafford, School Without Walls
Isabella Harris, Brent Elementary School
Clayton Witt, Stuart-Hobson Middle School
Barbara Riehle, Montessori @ Watkins/Logan
Heather Schoell, Maury Elementary School
Shahna Gooneratne, School Within School at Peabody