Chancellor Kaya Henderson announced Thursday that she has decided to shutter15 D.C. schools for low enrollment, five fewer than she initially proposed for closure in a plan put forth last year.
Among the schools to remain open are Garrison Elementary and Francis-Stevens Education Campus, two Northwest Washington schools where parents had mounted vigorous campaigns against closure. Some students from the selective School Without Walls will move into the Francis-Stevens building.
Smothers Elementary in Northeast also will stay open, as will Southeast’s Johnson Middle School and Malcolm X Elementary. The latter will be operated in partnership with a “high-performing charter school” that Henderson declined to name.
Still, more than one in 10 schools across the city will close in the next two years, the latest sign of a school system battling budget pressures and competition from fast-growing public charter schools.
Henderson argues that closing half-empty schools will allow her to use resources more efficiently, redirecting them from administration and maintenance to teaching and learning.
“Ultimately we’re paying too much and offering too little,” Henderson told reporters Thursday morning. “There are too many schools, and too many small schools, to allow our students to get the full benefit of the resources that we have.”
Thirteen of the schools will close at the end of this school year, with the remaining two — Sharpe Health and Mamie D. Lee, both schools for students with disabilities — to close in 2014.
For the first time, Henderson offered an estimate of the money to be saved through consolidations: $19.5 million. About $11 million of that will be needed for transition costs, Henderson said, resulting in a net savings of $8.5 million.