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Parents Urge Consideration of Van Ness Elementary Amid Capacity Crunch

by Andrea Swalec — February 9, 2015 at 4:55 pm 0

With a crunch for preschool and kindergarten seats expected on the Hill, local parents are advising families to apply to the school reopening in Navy Yard.

Van Ness Elementary School, at 1150 5th St. SE, will open this fall with two 16-seat preschool classes, two 20-seat pre-kindergarten classes and two 22-seat kindergarten classes.

The long-closed school will provide much-needed seats as a scramble is expected at other Ward 6 schools. Brent Elementary School is expecting “unprecedented demand” for its early childhood programs next school year, Principal Peter Young said in a letter sent to parents.

“We recommend that families ensure they have a backup option,” he wrote, noting that families who live within the school’s boundaries or who have other children there have already applied for 29 of the school’s 30 preschool spots.

That’s unusual, even for in-demand Brent Elementary, parent and former ANC 6B Commissioner Ivan Frishberg said.

“The idea that you could have kids already at Brent and not be able to get other children in is pretty amazing,” he said.

Parents rank their preferred schools in an application due March 2 for preschool through eighth grade.

Frishberg urged local parents to consider listing Van Ness as a preferred school.

“There’s a tremendous amount of energy going into that school — with top-notch facilities, a team that’s new and a really energized parent group,” Frishberg said.

The first children to attend the reopened school will benefit from all the energy being put into it, said ANC 6D Commissioner Meredith Fascett, an ex-president of the Van Ness Parents group.

“Where there is uncertainty comes, hand in hand, ownership and opportunity,” she said, noting that parents will help select the school’s principal and refine its design.

Preliminary designs for the school show separate art and music rooms, an “outdoor learning lab” and additional windows.

Van Ness will reopen after years of community organizing, as Hill Now previously reported. The school was closed in 2006 after the demolition of the Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg houses and was used as DCPS office space, as Greater Greater Education reported.

DCPS decided in Feb. 2011 to reopen the school, after evaluating expected residential construction and the capacity of Amidon-Bowen, Brent and Tyler elementary schools.

One set of renovations is expected to be complete by the start of the 2015-2016 school year. A second phase of work will be done in time for the 2016-2017 year.

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