D.C. public schools work to attract students from charter schools

With D.C. student back in school, administrators are facing the unique challenge of keeping students and parents in the public school system and away from charter schools.

Across the city Monday, parents brought their children to school. At a number of those schools, city leaders came to see the first day, first hand.

D.C. Chancellor Kaya Henderson and Mayor Vincent Gray came to Amidon-Bowen Elementary School in Southwest, where happy parents talked about the $5 million summer renovation.

Martin Wells, the PTA president at Amidon, said, "Brand new classrooms, brand new furniture, brand new lobby..."

Councilman Marion Barry visited Moten Elementary School in Southeast.

"It was a wreck when we came in here to renovate it," Barry said.

Moten also underwent a multimillion dollar facelift.

But only 293 students are enrolled in the massive building. Meanwhile, Cesar Chavez Public Charter High's tiny building houses 400 student and has a waiting list.

With charter schools educating more than 40 percent of students in the District, they now want more funding.

"Especially something like a gym that other schools have. But charters don't always get the same kind of funding DCPS does for those things," Jeffrey Cooper said.

At the same time, D.C. Public Schools are hoping nicer facilities will entice some students to return.

At Amidon elementary, enrollment is up 20 percent compared to last year.

"So many schools have been done over the summer also, and it looks so much better. It's just an aura of excitement, and that really is good for the kids also," Mayor Gray said.