The District of Columbia says it plans to close 15 schools with low attendance, including 13 at the end of the current school year.
Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson says that while there have been strong reactions from the community to proposed school closures, her top priority is to do what's best for students.
“We heard from people across the city that have never reached out or offered feedback before. People spoke up at meetings, they sent emails, they called, and we made sure to track everything they said," Henderson said in a release.
The following schools will consolidate at the end of this school year:
MacFarland Middle School
Marshall Elementary School
CHOICE at Hamilton
Spingarn Senior High School
Spingarn STAY program
Shaw Middle School @ Garnet-Patterson
Prospect Learning Center
Davis Elementary School
Kenilworth Elementary School
Winston Education Campus
Ron Brown Middle School
Ferebee-Hope Elementary School
MC Terrell-McGogney Elementary School
Two schools in two wards will close and consolidate at the end of next school year.
Sharpe Health Learning Center
Mamie D. Lee Special Education School
In a news briefing Thursday, Henderson noted she'd planned to close 20 schools, but after meeting community members, she changed her mind on five schools.
She decided to take Smothers Elementary School in Northeast off the list because it will eventually grow. Johnson Middle School in Southeast was taken off for fear of fights at transfer schools.
"We heard from the Metropolitan Police Department and roving leaders," Henderson explained. "We would have safety issues like we've never seen before…"
D.C. public schools continue to lose enrollment while charter schools flourish. For some D.C. parents, the closings still don't make sense.
"When they close this facility, what's it going to be...thanks Kaya...now I have to relocate my child," said Ferebee-Hope parent Ingrid Lipford.
Mayor Vincent Gray said he believes the decision will help improve public schools and speed up education reform.
Other schools are planning to expand as part of the same reorganization plan.Francis-Stevens Education Campus in Ward 2 will also consolidate with School Without Walls, expanding grade levels at School Without Walls to preK-12 and manage an education campus at the Francis-Stevens building.
Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander said she was disappointed with closure of four schools in the area she represents.
“This decision is shortsighted and it does not in any way persuade me to believe that our children and neighborhoods will somehow be better served,” Alexander said.
The plan will save the school system over $8 million, a report states.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.