This Thursday evening, DC Public Schools (DCPS) and the Department of General Services (DGS) briefed the Murch community on options for swing space — the place where the school will be housed during upcoming construction. Their presentation can be found here.
Before the meeting, the Murch SIT met with DCPS and DGS to express the frustration and outrage the Murch community is feeling with the way that the process has been handled. The SIT members told the agencies that discussing Murch’s swing space options with Lafayette before discussing them with the Murch community was unacceptable. In addition, they made it clear that this process has dragged on too long and we still have not received the information needed to make an informed decision.
DCPS and DGS presented four options under consideration for swing space. They originally looked at numerous other options, however, all but these four were ruled out for a variety of issues. The four remaining options are staying onsite with additional trailers on the Murch grounds, splitting the school between the Murch grounds and the church next to the Forest Hills Park, using the trailer complex at Lafayette Elementary, and building a trailer complex on the soccer fields at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC). It became clear during the meeting that the most probable options are the sites at UDC and Lafayette. We were told that if we are housed at either UDC or Lafayette, they will provide buses and work with us to ensure children can get to our aftercare programs.
The Murch community is encouraged to study the details of each proposal and provide feedback before December 31. Below is a quick and partial list of the pros and cons of each site, based on the presentations and comments from Thursday’s meeting:
Swinging on site at Murch:
- Pros – proximity and walkability, cheapest option
- Cons – unclear that it can be done safely, very little play space, traffic and parking would be a huge dilemma, likely would add an extra half a year to the construction timeline
Split between Capital Memorial Church in Forest Hills and Murch grounds:
- Pros – proximity
- Cons – challenges to staff and families of being in two locations, many of the same issues with traffic, parking, and safety as exist if the whole school swings on site
- Pros – already set up, larger play area than swinging on site, access to play structures
- Cons – so many kids at one site, concerns of Lafayette parents, accessibility for many families
- Pros – within walking distance to many families, larger play area than swinging on site, probable parking for staff
- Cons – traffic around the site, drop off area is limited, most expensive of the options, safety concerns of being near so many embassies and on a college campus, still a lot of unknowns
Before an informed decision can be made, DGS and DCPS need to do a lot more analysis of each of the potential sites. DGS and DCPS did not have answers to many of the questions that were asked by Murch community members.
You need to make your voices heard! Contact information for feedback and questions is listed at the end of the presentation. DCPS also has set up an online survey to express your thoughts and concerns on these proposals. Click here to access the survey. We were told that comments would be accepted until December 31 and a decision should be made by January 12. The final decision will be made by DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson and Chief Operating Officer Dr. Nathaniel Beers.