Over the last several years, the fight to renovate and expand Murch has hit numerous potential roadblocks. As a strong community, we have worked together to overcome them all. The project now faces another challenge, and we need help from our entire community to ensure that we can overcome this latest obstacle to getting the school building our children need and deserve.
DC Public Schools (DCPS) and the Department of General Services (DGS) informed the Murch School Improvement Team (SIT) that the project is underfunded — by $10 million — for the design that was presented to the community last July. The current budget is based on estimates by DGS that agency officials promised were sufficient for the necessary modernization. DCPS and DGS admit that their estimate was grossly incorrect, however, they are not proposing to increase the budget, but rather to change the building plans.
DCPS and DGS have proposed revisions to the design to scale it back and fit it to their incorrectly calculated budget. Their revisions would eliminate some of the core educational elements required by Murch, or any school. You can see drawings and an analysis of the proposed changes to the design on the Murch website.
It is important to understand that the changes DCPS and DGS are considering do not affect mere “bells and whistles.” Among other things, the proposed changes include:
- eliminating a cafeteria or a space large enough to hold the whole school for an assembly,
- severely shrinking the library/media center,
- replacing the play space for PreK and Kindergarten with surface parking,
- reducing the overall size of the playground, and
- moving the delivery and loading dock entrance to Reno Road.
The SIT and the HSA are working hard and pursuing several strategies to ensure that the city allocates the money required to complete the Murch modernization properly. With the help of the community, we believe we can achieve that goal. Time is of the essence, however, because we are now just four months away from the planned start of construction.
We are asking every Murch family to contact Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles to let them know that additional funding is critical to building a school that meets the most basic needs of students for generations to come. Please also send a copy of your correspondence to your representatives on the DC Council. Mayor Muriel Bowser has been a strong supporter of the Murch modernization in the past, and we need her help now. Contact information for the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor, and the Council is available here.
A letter in your own words is most effective, however, if you would like sample text for a letter, you can find one here.