School Budget Plan for Capitol Hill Gets Mixed Reviews

by Andrew Ramonas April 3, 2015 at 11:45 am 0

New Ward 6 school budget proposals have brought cheers and jeers as locals push for school renovations.

A plan to start upgrading Hill East’s Watkins Elementary School in the coming year drew praise from some locals. But some parents are concerned after Mayor Muriel Bowser’s budget released yesterday looked to fiscal 2019 to begin repairs at Eliot-Hine Middle School in Kingman Park and Jefferson Academy Middle School in Southwest.

Joe Weedon, Ward 6’s representative to the D.C. State Board of Education, said the District must start renovations at Eliot-Hine and Jefferson in the coming year. The schools need functioning heating and cooling systems, repaired bathrooms and classrooms with better lighting and ventilation, he said.

“The facilities at Eliot-Hine MS and Jefferson Academy MS are far below standard and fail to meet the basic needs of students,” Weedon said on his website.

Bowser proposed a total of $24 million to modernize Jefferson in fiscal years 2019 and 2020. The school at 801 7th St. SW had almost 300 students in the 2013-2014 school year.

Eliot-Hine would receive $34.1 million for renovations in fiscal 2019 and 2020 under the mayor’s plan. Nearly 300 students attended the school at 1830 Constitution Ave. NE in the 2013-2014 school year.

“Both Eliot-Hine MS and Jefferson Academy MS are positioned to become thriving school communities that can serve students from Ward 6 and across the city,” Weedon said. “However, they will fail to achieve their promise without needed capital investments.”

As for Watkins, Bowser requested a total of $30.9 million to renovate the school and its recreation center in fiscal 2016 and 2017. The school at 420 12th St. SE had 545 students in the 2013-2014 school year.

The District plans to make repairs to the school’s heating system and windows this year and begin renovations in 2016.

Last month, Watkins parents called on Bowser to provide more than $27 million for upgrades. Last night, D.C. Department of General Services representatives met with parents to discuss a new gym, window sunshades and other proposed changes to the school.

The mayor’s budget plan for Watkins is a “huge step in the right direction,” said Kevin White, a parent member of the Watkins Modernization School Improvement Team.

“We are happy,” he said.

Jefferson and Eliot-Hine building photos via Google Maps. Eliot-Hine bathroom photo via Twitter/Heather Schoell


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