The closure of DC public schools will affect over 2,400 students and more than 540 employees. But shuttering these schools will allow resources to be diverted away from building maintenance in order to refocus on students and teachers with new libraries, art classes, and additional foreign language courses. The school system estimates that closing the 15 schools listed above will save $19.5 million in staffing costs, while the transitions will cost $11 million.
The public schools in DC have lost over 100,000 students since the 1960s. The low enrollment in DC public schools has been affected by the rise in charter schools since the mid-1990s. Charter schools now educate over 40% of students in the District. While charter schools are publicly funded, they are not governed by the public school system.
But the closure of DC public schools does not mean more available real estate for charter schools. The school system plans to keep the buildings in case enrollment increases in the future.
In March, activists protested the closure of DC public schools with a lawsuit. They claim that the final list of schools violates civil rights laws by sparing schools in wealthy neighborhoods while unduly affecting poor, minority, and disabled students. In fact, all the closing schools are east of Rock Creek Park, with many in low-income areas of Anacostia. The school system denies any discriminatory practices in the selection of schools to close.
Stay tuned for the final outcome of the closure of DC public schools.