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DCPS to ‘transform’ five more schools

(Published June 17, 2002)

By KRYSTAL TOLES

Staff Writer

D.C. Public Schools Superintendent Paul L. Vance has announced the second phase of "transforming" the city’s public schools to increase their level of student achievement and performance.

Five more schools will be added to the previous nine that were announced last year. The three elementary schools, one middle school and one alternative school were chosen because they failed to show evidence of progress and did not address the needs of the students, parents and community, Vance said.

The five schools are Wilkinson Elementary in Southeast Washington, Walker-Jones Elementary in Northwest, Stanton Elementary in Southeast, Evans Middle in Northeast and CHOICE Academy’s Taft campus in Northeast and Douglass campus in Southeast.

"These additional schools slated for transformation are just another step toward the larger goal of rebuilding a system that works for all students," Vance said.

He said the transformation of all the D.C. Public Schools is following the criteria determined in President Bush’s "No Child Left Behind Act," which requires that all children have their level of performance improve by the year 2014.

Officials said the five schools were selected from among 21 considered for transformation, but the selected schools were based on overall effectiveness and climate. Wilkinson Elementary was approved based on its performance, while the other two elementary schools and Evans Middle were chosen because of negative climate that was evident within the schools, officials said.

The CHOICE alternative program enrolls children who were expelled from other D.C. Public Schools or who have had a substance abuse problem. Officials said the CHOICE program was selected for transformation because it did not address the necessities of the student community.

The transformation process is expected to cost about $8.5 million to complete. Vance said he believes that amount is sufficient to create the change that is long overdue for the public school system.

"We expect to achieve success and look to the day when the public schools in this city will be heralded as among the best in the nation," Vance said.

The money is slated to go toward facility enhancement, training programs, parent outreach, special curriculum, new technology and additional staffing patterns.

About 400 staff members will be affected at the five additional transformation schools, as principals and teachers will be replaced by the beginning of the next school year. The current principals, however, will complete the current year and the new principals will monitor the selection of the new staff in the five schools. An agreement with the Washington Teacher’s Union allows up to 50 percent of teachers to reapply if they wish to remain in their current school.

As part of the training for the new staff, they must attend two-year training sessions at Temple University and Harvard University beginning in August, officials said.

Copyright 2002, The Common Denominator