Posted tagged ‘Schools’

Notes From January 28 School Modernization Community Meeting

February 9, 2012

East elevation of the Park View School auditorium, detail from 1915 plan

On Saturday, January 28, the Department of General Services (DGS) organized a community meeting at the Bruce-Monroe @ Park View school to present the current concept plan for the school’s modernization. Official minutes of the meeting can be found here, and the plan presented to the community can be found here.

Modernization of the school will occur in three phases, beginning in the Spring of 2012 and ending in 2018. The first phase of modernizations generally focuses on classrooms with public spaces occurring in phase two and remaining infrastructure being improved during the third and final phase. All involved recognize that the 94-year old Park View building needs significant improvement and the scope of work scheduled for 2012 will be increased to address much needed improvements in addition to classroom space.

The phase I modernization was originally budgeted at $5.5 Million. Due to the scope of work there is a request before the DC Council to increase the budget to $8.4 Million. It is also expected that budget increases will be put forward for phases II and III of the project.

At the meeting there were question from residents of 6thStreet, NW, about how the project would impact the alley between their homes and the school. Some informed DGS that their properties have been damaged from time to time due to how narrow the alley is. DGS responded that they are still working on the plans and they didn’t have any specifics to share about the alley yet. DGS did show that they hope to increase the parking area by excavating the area between the current parking lot and the rear of the school.

Another topic that arose was that of closing Otis Place between the school and recreation center. At this time DGS is exploring the possibility of temporarily closing Otis Place during school hours. The process to do this will require a public comment period so that residents can consider the proposal and evaluate its impact on local traffic.

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Report on MLK, Jr. Day of Service at Bruce-Monroe @ Park View School

January 18, 2012

volunteers painting a mural at the school

I have a good deal of school news to share this week. So, before I move forward with information on the efforts to modernize the Park View School, I’m going to play catch-up and give a report on the Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service that occurred there this past Monday.

From what I’ve learned, there was a good turnout and things went well. They had about 50 volunteers through DC Cares as well as local neighbors who came to the school to participate.

Among the activities volunteers participated in were painting a César Chávez mural in the entrance hallway to the auditorium, painting flags of different countries from around the world on canvasses to be hung around the school, and a group went around and touched up all the existing murals that were in need of repair. A group of Park View residents washed all the windows and cleaned the doors and moldings throughout the school.

DC Cares also gave some pointers on fire safety and passed out flyers in the community about fire safety. In the spirit of the day, a group of local youth from Park View Kids Zone picked up trash along Warder Street to do their part in giving back to the neighborhood.

I’d like to express my gratitude to all those who became involved and donated their time and energy to make both the school and community a better place for all who are here.

David Do and another volunteer cleaning doors at the school

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Planning for Renovation of Park View School Moves Forward

November 23, 2011

(l to r) Deputy Mayor for Education De’Shawn Wright, Councilmember Jim Graham, Ahnna Smith (from Deputy Mayor for Education's office), and Mel Butler (of DGS)

Yesterday at 4 p.m. there was a substantial meeting between community members, parents, teachers, and city representatives to follow up from the earlier May 2011 meeting on both the immediate needs and planned modernization of the Bruce-Monroe @ Park View School. Among the city representatives present were the Deputy Mayor for Education De’Shawn Wright, Councilmember Jim Graham, Ahnna Smith (from Deputy Mayor for Education’s office), and Mel Butler and Darrell Pressley from the Department of General Services (DGS).

In reviewing outstanding issues from the May meeting, the chief concerns continued to be the health of students and faculty and the state of the cafeteria.

Regarding the health issues, the chief concern seems to be air quality, especially with an increase in asthma and possible mold conditions. Ahnna Smith reported that the air quality had been tested in June and the results did not indicate that there was anything to be overly concerned about … yet followed that this does not mean that there isn’t room for improvement. To this, Ms. Jaffe — one of the teachers — requested that the air be tested again now that the building is closed up for the winter. It was agreed that this made sense and would be done.

Mr. Acosta, another of the teachers, stated that appropriate facilities are still needed for the storage of dry goods, pots & pans, and utensils in the cafeteria. While shelving has been installed and Tupperware tubs secured for some utensils, there is still work to do on this item.

Parents, teachers, and community members at the SIT meeting

Moving on to immediate concerns, the condition of the roof and water damage sustained from leaking bathrooms were identified as priorities. With regards to the roof, those assembled learned that it has already been identified by the Office of Public Education, Facilities Modernization, as a pressing need and may get done this winter in advance of the Phase I modernization. Mel Butler stated that a complete assessment of the roof is due to be completed soon and its findings will suggest if the roof merely needs to be stabilized & repaired or completely replaced. In either case, Butler expects a contract to stabilize the roof to be issued this year.

Members of the school community also identified the desire to unite the school property with the neighboring recreation center. To this point, I furthered that this could require the closing of Otis Place which would need to be studied. Additionally, I suggested that management of the Park View recreation center could possibly be relocated to Raymond Recreation Center since the rec center does not have a robust recreation program in operation.

Moving forward on the phased modernization, things are about to start moving quickly. The School Improvement Team (SIT) should “officially” begin meeting in December — even though there have already been several SIT meetings among the school community thus far. The Bruce-Monroe SIT team is headed by Kelley Padilla and the chief contact from DGS is Darrell Pressley.

Lastly, the architect/engineering team has already been identified for the project. While I did not learn who the engineer will be, the selected architect is SORG. This group will create a complete set of plans for the entire modernization, and those plans will be used in all three phases of the project. Currently, the project is scheduled to begin in spring 2012 and end in 2018.

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Family Math Night at Bruce-Monroe @ Park View

November 18, 2011

Shape Bingo at Math Night. Colors and shapes were called out in Spanish.

This past Wednesday, November 16, I had the privilege to attend Bruce-Monroe @ Park View’s Math Night. Not only did I get to see the school open to parents and friends of the school while students brushed up on their math skills, but I also got to meet some of the dedicated educators at the school.

Math night ran from 5 to 7 p.m. Its concept is simple. There were 14 stations with various games that emphasized addition, multiplication, and shapes. Each participant is given a passport with all the games listed and as they visit each station they get a sticker. Once five stickers are collection, the passport can be presented for dinner in the school cafeteria.

Because of Bruce-Monroe’s dual language program, it is also an opportunity to learn a little Spanish. For me, that opportunity came when I participated in Shape Bingo. Each shape and color was called out in Spanish — the first person to fill in a row got Bingo! Sadly, that person was not me.

I’m definitely looking forward to more opportunities to participate in school programs. It was a great experience.

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Park View School to be Nominated as Historic Landmark

September 16, 2011

The Park View School has been serving the community since 1916

In addition to the Irving Street sign (see below), the other item that was on the September ANC 1A agenda that will be of interest to Park View residents is the nomination of the Park View School as a historic landmark. This was introduced by ANC 1A08 Commissioner Kent Boese and approved by the ANC (vote 7-1).

The nomination was about as straight forward and uncontroversial as landmark nominations get. The school is one of the lucky few that is loved by both neighborhood residents and greater Washington’s keepers of the city’s architectural heritage. One of the more significant aspects of the building is that it was designed by municipal architect Snowden Ashford in 1916 — the same architect and year as the original Dunbar High School (razed 1977). For additional details, you can read the entire landmark application.

What is important to keep in mind is that landmark status does not hamper modernization of school building or even dictate use. While it will protect the architectural integrity of the building, the modernization planned to begin in 2012 for the school will still go forward. Moderniation, and even contemporary additions, can and do happen to DCPS landmarked schools. An excellent example of a recently modernized school with landmark status is Janney Elementary School (4130 Albemarle Street NW). Those interested can check out some of the documentation about Janney here.

The nomination will be sent to the DC Historic Preservation Office where will it be scheduled for a public hearing by the Historic Preservation Review Board as their calendar permits. The applications are considered under the authority of the Historic Landmark and Historic District Protection Act of 1978. Landmark applications are considered and either approved or rejected by the Historic Preservation Review Board.

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Update on Bruce Monroe @ Park View Playground

August 19, 2011

D.C. Public Schools open on Monday August 22, 2011, and it looks like the kindergartners at the Park View School won’t have to do without a playground as previously thought. A month ago it looked like the small playground at the southeast corner of the school would be out of service until October. The equipment was in need of repair and no money for new parts had been identified.

In the past month, luckily, the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization (OPEFM) was able to find the money to replace the playground and has been actively working to get the playground up and running. Below are some photos of the new playground equipment as the site nears completion.

New playground equipment at the Bruce Monroe @ Park View School

Another view of the playground equipment at the Bruce Monroe @ Park View School

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School’s Tot Lot Dismantled, New Wall Being Constructed

August 8, 2011


Workers have made quick work at the Bruce Monroe @ Park View School’s tot lot. When I checked it out on Sunday the play equipment was completely dismantled and a crew was on site digging a trench behind the existing wall. I asked what the trench was for and was  told that they plan to build a new higher wall behind the existing one. Judging from the cinder blocks (below), it looks like the wall will achieve their aim but will not be inspired.

Textured cinder blocks on site for the school's new wall

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1915 Drawings of the Park View School Provide Clues to Original Details

August 4, 2011

One of the many projects I’m working on is a nomination for the Park View School to be considered for landmark status and to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places. I’ll keep people posted on the progress of the effort as it progresses. In the mean time, I wanted to share some great drawings of the school from 1915.

These architectural elevations are from the original set of plans drawn by Municipal Architect Snowden Ashford in 1915. The drawing above is of the north elevation. It shows how the school would have originally looked from the current Park View Recreation Center before the 1931 additions were built. Some of the nice details that can be learned from the above drawing is the style of the solid wood doors and the use of copper downspouts and scuppers.

Below is a cross section of a portion of the Warder Street entrance. It cuts though the terrace showing the boiler room below. It also shows that the double windows to both sides of the entrance originally had leaded glass windows in a diamond pattern.

While the building has lost all trace of the original entry doors and leaded glass windows, my examination of the exterior did turn up one original feature that hasn’t completely vanished. One of the copper scuppers is still on the building. The photo below shows that — like the building — it also was designed in the gothic style.

The sole surviving copper scupper on the Park View School

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Park View Tot Lot Off Limits

July 22, 2011

Cordoned off tot lot at the school

The tot lot at the Bruce Monroe @ Park View School has been cordoned off due to disrepair. I’ve been informed that the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization (OPEFM) is looking for the parts to repair the play equipment.

There is a possibility that OPEFM will not have any spare parts on hand and that they’ll need to wait until October when the next Fiscal Year starts. If this happens, the school will need to use the equipment at the neighboring Park View Recreation Center.

The school’s tot lot is located on the northwest corner of Warder Street and Newton Place and is largely used by the school’s youngest children.

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Park View School to be Modernized, No New Building for Bruce-Monroe

May 23, 2011

The Park View School has been serving the community since 1916

In a meeting at the Wilson Building late on Friday afternoon (5/20/11), Deputy Mayor for Education De’Shawn Wright announced that the District would be moving forward with the modernization of the Park View School and had no plans to build a new school on the Bruce-Monroe site, which will continue being used as a community park for the immediate future.

Deputy Mayor Wright began the meeting by briefly recapping the events that lead to the present public school situation in Park View. He acknowledged the frustration of the communities impacted by these events and clearly stated that the purpose of the meeting was to map the path forward. As learned in the meeting, one factor in the decision to move forward with the Park View modernization was the District’s inability to secure the public/private partnership for the redevelopment of the Bruce-Monroe site that would have financed a new school building. Other factors included the investment of $3.3M in the Park View School that has already occurred since 2008 and the solid condition of the school’s overall structure. It was also noted that the basic design of Park View is good and that the District would not be able to achieve the same results with a new building for the same money.

Even with the improvements already made at Park View, Deputy Mayor Wright made it clear that the school does not currently live up to the standards that parents, teachers, and the community should expect. Nor does Park View currently provide an ideal learning environment.

Deputy Mayor Wright then asked Mel Butler of the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization (OPEFM) to explain the next steps in modernizing the school. Butler began by giving details on the $3.3M already invested at Park View.

The $3.3M  was broken down thusly:

To add some clarity to these categories, HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning; Life Safety includes fire doors or any improvements that make the school a healthier and safer place to learn and teach; and general improvements would be everything else. The large general expenditure in 2008 includes the renovated plaza in front of the school which was required to keep the boiler room (underneath the plaza) dry and functional. (more…)


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