Good Morning. I’m Kenyon Weaver, a parent at Maury Elementary and member of the Maury PTA, as well as the Maury SIT, or School Improvement Team.
Last week, I provided testimony on how, while Maury is blessed with a strong community and high trust within our school, including our excellent Principal, administration and faculty, that DCPS Central Office was failing to meaningfully engage with the community with regard to the Maury modernization process. Today, I’m here to provide suggested solutions for the way forward.
A lot has certainly happened in the past 9 days to further erode trust. The DCPS Central Office leadership needs to restore that trust. These are District-wide proposals that will help to restore that trust:
· First: Transparency. Here we are with a crisis of transparency and fair process at the very top, but it is similarly a crisis in the lower interactions between the DCPS Central Office and the individual school communities. Transparency in the SIT process means:
o Identify community priorities and needs before design;
o Hold regular meetings;
o Provide the community with actual deadlines, real budget numbers – do not deflect or avoid or “run out the clock”;
o Be honest in those responses. The community does not expect every wish and desire will be fulfilled but we expect a candid conversation.
· Second: DCPS leadership, DGS leadership, and DDOT leadership should support Councilmember Allen’s Daytime School Parking Zone Amendment Act, providing teachers a mechanism for permits for on-street parking. Otherwise, the District will not be putting Kids First. At least, not all kids.
· Third: DCPS should adopt minimums for play space in its Educational Specifications. Under the DC Code, we could have a school with a mandatory 30 parking spaces, and zero outdoor play space. That’s because there’s no requirement that a school have play space. Again, without these, in my view the District cannot claim to be putting Kids First.
As I noted last time, because of DCPS Central Office’s intransigence, Maury Elementary’s new building simply will have not the facility it needs to support the expected 500+ students. Yes, it will have classrooms. Like every school. But, no, it will no longer have a usable garden or sufficient playground space. And it never will, because of the poor decisions being made now.
But we can still salvage something, with Transparency that restores trust, and with legislation and policies that puts all Kids First. Daytime School Parking Zone Amendment Act, and with outdoor playspace in Ed Specs. And we can make steps back to restoring trust. Parents are willing.