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December 13, 2014 
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A group of neighborhood residents organizing as "Parents on the Capitol Riverfront" have come together over the past few months to lobby the DC public school system and city officials to consider reopening Van Ness Elementary School, which was caught up in the DCPS downsizing at the end of the 2006 school year, after most of its student body moved away with the closing of Capper/Carrollsburg. Elementary school-aged children who live in Near Southeast are now in the boundaries for Amidon-Bowen Elementary School across South Capitol Street in Southwest, which is a bit of a hike from locations like Capitol Quarter.
In a recent e-mail to me, representatives of the group explained their motivation: "A quality school is not only good for the kids, it's a necessary amenity for retaining existing and attracting new residents to our neighborhood. We love our neighborhood and are dedicated to living in DC, but that dedication rests upon the opportunities available for our kids. The amazing Canal Park planned for the neighborhood is great and will be well-used by kids and adults alike, but it takes a school to keep the community of families here."
Over the past few months, the group has met twice in small targeted meetings with Michelle Rhee, as well as with Tommy Wells, and are working to get another meeting scheduled with Rhee that could include all neighborhood parents. There is also apparently a survey from DCPS being distributed by e-mail regarding Van Ness and the number of children in the area, and the parents' group is wanting to be sure that the survey gets to everyone with kids.
DCPS has told them that, in order for a viable elementary to be opened (grades Pre-K3 though 5), it needs to have 250 students. The group says that they've been told that "it might be possible to phase in the school, starting with Pre-K3, Pre-K4 and Kindergarten for the first couple of years and then slowly expanding up through 5th grade," so they are trying to determine exactly how many school-aged children are in the neighborhood, along with possible projections of how many more might arrive over the next five years. They are also looking at whether a large number of parents currently on the waitlist for Brent Elementary might be willing to send their children to Van Ness out-of-boundary, to help increase the number of potential students.
The parents' group now has a Google Group set up, where any interested neighborhood parents can request membership.
The school's location at 5th and M, SE, is one that has been being eyed for a while by various interested parties, and there have been talks in the past about perhaps selling the land with a requirement that the purchaser build a new school close by. Another discussed option has been co-locating a new school building with the long-delayed Capper Community Center. And the Marines have also been looking at the school's land, either as part of their space needs for the new barracks or as a place where other landowners (like the Housing Authority) could relocate planned uses if the Marines were to take their land for the barracks.
The original Van Ness Elementary School, on M Street between 3rd and 4th, opened in 1909, and was for much of its life a segregated school for black children. (You can see it at far right in this photo from 1939.) It was replaced during Integration by the current building at 5th and M in September of 1956, although the old school building at 4th and M (eventually known as the Lenox Annex) remained on the city's property rolls under varying uses. In the 1970s it was a special education school, then an adult education center in the 1990s, but finally the building was demolished in the late 1990s for what has since become the 300 M Street SE office building.
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L Fifth St says: (9/12/10 7:37 PM)
This is inspiring and welcomed news for those of us planning on moving to the area with young children or planning on having children. Where do Capitol Riverfront families currently send their school-aged children?


L Fifth St says: (9/12/10 7:37 PM)
This is inspiring and welcomed news for those of us planning on moving to the area with young children or planning on having children. Where do Capitol Riverfront families currently send their school-aged children?


natalie says: (9/12/10 7:38 PM)
Here is a link to the survey for anyone who is interested.

link


natalie says: (9/12/10 7:41 PM)
About that link, the survey is the sixth bullet down under 'building on momentum.'

link


Liz says: (9/12/10 7:44 PM)
There are surveys for interested parents at the Capitol Quarter sales office and Cornercopia. If you sign up for the parent group, we could also send you an electronic copy.


Liz says: (9/12/10 7:47 PM)
Just saw that the link to the survey was posted above. All parents should take a minute to fill it out! I would encourage people who are thinking about becoming parents in the next few years to fill it out as well. Just note that somewhere on the survey.


Meredith says: (9/12/10 10:18 PM)
@L 5th St, I know of local parents who send their children to DC charters in various parts of the city, Brent Elementary (our closest elementary school although technically we're out-of-bounds so must enter a lottery), and one who goes to Amidon-Bowen in SW. Some families I've talked with have looked into or are planning on sending their kids to either St. Peters or Capitol Day School--both close, both private. MANY families have babies or toddlers who are not yet school age, so are working through those decisions now and hoping for a good public option.

We welcome all current and future Riverfront parents to weigh in and get involved!


Jennifer says: (9/13/10 10:06 AM)
Below is the link to the survey -- a good quality school in the area would increase the value of our community. We need to get every parent or potential parent counted because they won't open unless they think they can get 250 children in the school:

link


James Ryan says: (9/13/10 7:22 PM)
This is not going to happen. And, I have yet to see any hard data to show this is going to improve our home values. There is no way they will get 250 students. In addition, most kids in this neighborhood will be going to a private school (or, they should considering the education at dc public schools).

I appreciate what the administration is doing to improve the schools but they are still awful. How much is the private school on the hill? Like $8 grand a year...nothing compared to the difference in education a student would receive.

The political folks attending meetings are trying to get votes in the election. They know it is not going to happen. If Fenty loses, this proposal falls off the map. If Fenty wins, the proposal gets put on the back burner.

For those opposed to the recreation center, the public school will bring about similar issues.

I will guarantee this school is not going to reopen. If anything, they are going to be closing more schools.


SE says: (9/14/10 9:16 AM)
@James Ryan, Your information about the quality of DCPS schools and their enrollment is terribly outdated. The closest DCPS school is Brent Elementary which had a waitlist for every grade. Parents across Capitol Hill have been working hard with their local elementaries to improve their neighborhood schools and it has had an impact on their property values. I sincerely hope that Van Ness follows the same trend.

Your impression of tuition at privates is also low. Capitol Hill Day School is about $24,000 per year. St. Peters is more affordable at $10,000 per year, but I'm not convinced that the education is superior to that at the public elementaries.


MJM says: (9/14/10 10:56 AM)
Everyone should post posts w/o 'factual' facts - those are the best kind :)

Getting this school re-opened is nothing but a win-win for the area. For those with kids and for those living here that will/want to have kids one day - to have a school so close by will be a positive.

JD - correct me if I'm wrong which I might be because I haven't researched too much of the 'recent' schools in SE (only the first ones around here) but thought I found some materiral that Van Ness was built to create a self contained community around the Capper community.


Liz says: (9/14/10 11:26 AM)
James, when is the last time you have been in a DCPS elementary school? I am a DCPS elementary school teacher, so I can tell you, firsthand, that there are some GREAT DC public schools. A private school does not necessarily mean a better school. It seems a little ridiculous for people to spend $25,000 a year on an elementary school when they can send their kids to a great free school. I will definitely be saving my money for my son's college tuition, instead of wasting it on a private elementary school. I encourage you to come to the next Rhee meeting. Hopefully she can change your pessimistic attitude.


Mark says: (9/14/10 12:57 PM)
James - thanks for adding nothing but negativity to this discussion. You obviously don't have school age children (or children?) - that said, if you live in the area you should care regardless, because historically proximity to a good school increases your property values.


James Ryan says: (9/14/10 6:38 PM)
Two kids - private school.

I respect all of your opinions. My apologies for stirring such a whirlwind here. I will not get into the public vs. private debate (I am a public school kid).

I will make this prediction though - no way is this school getting reopened. The only real reason Rhee attended these meetings was to sell everyone in voting for Fenty (which I just did by the way). Congrats, you got played by a great politician - politics 101 folks.


JD says: (9/15/10 9:26 AM)
So, I'm wondering--do the parents trying to get Van Ness reopened feel like the mayoral election results will have any impact on a potential reopening?


James Ryan says: (9/15/10 1:40 PM)
JD, Yes, there is no question. First, even if Fenty got reelected, there was a slim chance of the school reopening. Now, with Rhee departing, this school has no chance of reopening. It is not even part of Gray's platform.

I am not being the grim reaper here folks, I am just guaranteeing this will not happen. But, if the school does reopen, I will be the first to admit that I was wrong. And, I will let everyone here come up with a reasonable punishment for my ignorance and lack of foresight - drinks at Justin's, ice cream at Baskin-Robbins, coffee at Starbucks, whatever.

I admit it was unfair of me to criticize the DC public schools and compare them to expensive private institutions. My argument was not necessarily for or against DC public schools; instead, it was the realization that the school will not reopen. I voted there yesterday and the school is in poor condition (the little I saw of it). There would be massive start-up costs associated with this project.

On a side note, I love living in Near SE. Hopefully, the new administration will continue the private-public partnership to continue progress. I visited Yards Park last night and it looks great.

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 01/10/14
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1025 1ST ST SE   
12/03/14 
NA NA NA
EHOP1590134 / HOME OCCUPATION
   
12/10/14 
KAREN NZAKIMUENA
PC74349112 / POST CARD
INSTALLATION OF NOT MORE THAN 1 NEW AIR CONDITIONING UNIT UP TO A MAXIMUM OF 10-TONS OF EQUIVALENT REFRIGERATING EFFECT.
1016 3RD ST SE   
12/15/14 
ANAMARIA R MOTTOLA / DIXON
B1502438 / CONSTRUCTION
RENOVATIONS MINOR MEP
1212 4TH ST SE   
12/10/14 
FC 1212 LLC / SCHINDLER ELEVATOR CORP
ER1500593 / SHOP DRAWING
REPLACE MAXTON UC2A VALVE EST. COST OF WORK $ 2 2120. 00
927 5TH ST SE   
12/15/14 
AARON LORENZO
PC25919394 / POST CARD
REPLACEMENT IN KIND OF EXISTING FENCE ON PRIVATE PROPERTY. REPLACEMENT IN KIND WHEN APPLIED TO ARCHITECTURAL FEATURES MEANS REPLACEMENT WITH A FEATURE OF LIKE MATERIAL THAT REPLICATES THE EXISTING FEATURE IN PROPORTION APPEARANCE TEXTURE DESIGN DETAIL AND DIMENSIONS.
1000 5TH ST SE   
12/04/14 
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA / WALTER T JONES
E1501598 / SUPPLEMENTAL
1015 HALF ST SE   
12/10/14 
HALF STREET LLC / ART DISPLAY; BOB BIROONAK ART DISPLAY CO.
SG1400465 / CONSTRUCTION
ONE ILLUMINATED NEWS TICKER SIGN
1201 HALF ST SE   
12/10/14 
WEST HALF 1 LLC / MARK W GIBSON
E1501746 / SUPPLEMENTAL
   
12/12/14 
JASON YORK
TN1500036 / CONSTRUCTION
INSTALLING SMALL TENT ON DEC 29 2014 FOR THE BRIDGESTONE WINTER CLASSIC ON 1-1-15 WITH GENERATOR TENTS REMOVED ON 1-2-15
808 L ST SE   
12/10/14 
NAVY YARD ASSOCIATES LLC / KE-MAURELLE PREDDIE
B1412006 / CONSTRUCTION
NEW OFFICE USE FOR 1254 SQ. FT. EXISTING TWO STORIES PLUS BASEMENT STRUCTURE ON SE / C-3-A ZONING DISTRICT. MECHANICAL ELECTRICAL AND PLUMBING REMAIN AS IS.
80 M ST SE   
12/10/14 
WELLS REIT II 80 M STREET LLC / ANTHONY G SAMBURG
E1501724 / SUPPLEMENTAL
14 M ST SE   
12/16/14 
ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF WASHINGTON / PHILLIP B. MOBLEY
FB1500047 / SUPPLEMENTAL
20 M ST SE   
12/04/14 
TRANSWESTERN JEFFREY GROSS / OLLIE READ; TRANSWESTERN JEFFREY GROSS; CHRISTOPHER SCHULZE
AR66514546 / SUPPLEMENTAL
   
12/04/14 
TRANSWESTERN JEFFERY W GROSS / ANDREW ARNTSON; TRANSWESTERN JEFFERY W GROSS; ANDREW ARNTSON
P96600069 / SUPPLEMENTAL
80 M ST SE   
12/03/14 
MARY JACKSON
PC44081129 / POST CARD
REPLACEMENT OF NOT MORE THAN 1 GAS APPLIANCE ON A RESIDENTIAL COMMERCIAL OR INDUSTRIAL PROJECT.
   
12/05/14 
WELLS REIT II 80 M STREET LLC /
P1501746 / SUPPLEMENTAL
100 M ST SE   
12/03/14 
SQUARE 743 INC. / SAM HOLLEN RAMCO OF DC INC.
B1502037 / CONSTRUCTION
INTERIOR RENOVATION TO 4TH FLOOR OFFICE SPACE. SUBDIVIDE TENANT SPACE AND ADD PANTRY. PARTITIONS MEP AND LIFE SAFETY. NORTHWOOD INVESTORS LLC
202 M ST SE   
12/10/14 
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA / WOODY WICKLIFFE
TN1500035 / CONSTRUCTION
INSTALL 50FT X 100FT TENT NO GENERATORS NO COOKING NO SMOKING NO STAGES 10FT X 70FT TENT INSTALLED DEC 11-15 2014 EVENTS DEC 12-14 2014 12:01PM - 9:00 PM
1201 M ST SE   
12/11/14 
CARLTON RAY
AH1500149 / CONSTRUCTION
TO PERFORM TEMPORARY LANE CLOSURES
75 N ST SE   
12/11/14 
CRANE SERVICE CO / CHRISTINE LONG
AH1500150 / CONSTRUCTION
AN AFTER HOURS PERMIT IS RESPECTFULLY REQUESTED FROM 2:00AM THRU 11:00PM
800 NEW JERSEY AVE SE   
12/08/14 
SQUARE 737 LLC / GLENNWOOD ROGERS
P1501673 / SUPPLEMENTAL
25 POTOMAC AVE SE   
12/02/14 
RIVERFRONT HOLDINGS I LLC C/O ECC INC. / ECC INC.
UT1500007 / CONSTRUCTION
REMOVAL OF ONE 100-GALLON UNDERGROUND STORAGE TANK DURING MASS EXCAVATION ACTIVITIES FOR SITE REDEVELOPMENT.
   
12/03/14 
RIVERFRONT HOLDINGS I LLC / WOODY WICKLIFFE
TN1500032 / CONSTRUCTION
INSTALL 40FT X 80FT TENT NO COOKING NO SMOKING NO PROPANE NO LIGHTING 40FT X 40FT TENT 2 GENERATORS 25KW EACH 20FT X 20FT TENT 8FT X 20FT PLATFORM 40FT X 40FT PLATFORM 20FT X 20FT PLATFORM INSTALLED DEC 8 -9 2014 EVENT DEC 9 2014 9AM - 4PM
   
12/05/14 
FLORIDA ROCK PROPERTIES INC / ROBERT S. WATTS
E1501658 / SUPPLEMENTAL
   
12/05/14 
RIVERFRONT INVESTMENT PARTNERS / JASON BENTLEY
B1408697 / CONSTRUCTION
CONSTRUCTION OF NEW 9 STORY BUILDING. THIRD PARTY REVIEW
300 TINGEY ST SE   
12/15/14 
FC BOILERMAKER LLC / GREGORY BIRCKHEAD; FC BOILERMAKER LLC; MICHAEL BELL
E55526822 / SUPPLEMENTAL
AH = After Hours; B = Alteration & Repair; D = Demolition; E = Electrical; FB = Boiler; M = Mechanical; P = Plumbing and Gas; PC = Post Card; R = Raze; SG = Sign; TL = Tenant Layout; TN = Tent; RW = Retaining Wall;

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