Statement from DFER-DC on Mayor's Announcement of Long-term Locations for DC Public Charter Schools

Blogs, Letters & Testimonials

February 5, 2016


Statement from DFER DC on Mayor’s Announcement¬†of Long-term Locations for DC Public Charter Schools

Washington, DC – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced she was making the Keane and PR Harris buildings, two former DC Public Schools, available to public charter schools for multi-year leases. She also announced that MC Terrell School would be awarded to the Charter School Incubator Initiative. Keane is currently occupied by DC Bilingual PCS, and PR Harris houses Ingenuity Prep PCS and National Collegiate Academy PCS.

“DFER is pleased that Ingenuity Prep, National Collegiate Prep, and DC Bilingual will have the opportunity to apply for multi-year leases of the PR Harris and Keane school buildings, and that the Charter School Incubator Initiative can now use the MC Terrell facility to cultivate new school options for families,” said Catharine Bellinger, Executive Director of DFER DC. “Mayor Bowser’s decision to move forward today resolves a lot of uncertainty for hundreds of families, and is a clear signal that she is thinking about the needs of the 44% of D.C. public school children who attend charter schools.”

Earlier this year Education Reform Now, a non-partisan partner of Democrats for Education Reform, surveyed 686 registered DC voters on a range of education issues including the use of surplus facilities by high-quality charter schools. The results were overwhelming: 3 in 4 voters, and 86% of parents, believe quality public charter schools should be part of the solution for vacant buildings.

Joy Arnold Russell, a charter parent and DFER DC Board Member, added, “As a parent, I want my child, and every child, to have access to a safe and adequate school facility.¬† The Mayor took an important first step today by allowing these three charter schools the opportunity to stay in their facilities. This will mean peace of mind for parents and consistency for students.

“Three years ago, my son’s public charter school was without a permanent home. My son is happy and successful in that school, but, at the time, we were very concerned about the school’s future. After a long search, we found permanent space in a formerly vacant DCPS building. Although that facility required millions of dollars of repairs, we are working to create a stable learning environment that allows our children to think, play, create, and grow.”

Access to suitable facilities continues to be one of the biggest challenges high quality charter schools face as they seek to serve more students. After, the Mayor’s announcement, there will be 11 empty school buildings in Washington, DC. Charter operators and the Public Charter School Board will continue to work with the Mayor and Deputy Mayor for Education to identify other opportunities to work together to put these buildings to good use making more great schools available to DC students.


Catharine Bellinger, DFER-DC