Thursday, July 19, 2012

City Awards Unoccupied Brightwood School to Washington Latin Charter School

The Rudolph School building in Brightwood / Fort Totten
One of four empty school buildings in DC that the District's Department of General Services put up for public charter school bidding in April has been awarded to Washington Latin Charter School.  This week, DGS and the Deputy Mayor for Education recommended that the city award the Rudolph School, located at 5200 2nd Street, NW, in the Brightwood / Fort Totten neighborhood of Northwest DC, to Washington Latin.

Washington Latin, which is going into its sixth year, features a classical curriculum and Latin language education starting in the 5th grade. The school also has a full athletic program, and also teaches the modern languages Arabic, French, and Chinese.  Washington Latin currently occupies three buildings on 16th Street, but plans to spend $15 million to occupy the 84,000 square foot former Rudolph School facility in Brightwood by August, 2013.  Mark Lerner, president of the Washington Latin board of governors, said Washington Latin would finance the restoration with a commercial loan, and then repay it with the facility allotment that charter schools receive from the District.

Future home of Washington Latin, which has an athletic program
While the Rudolph School closed in 2008 because of low occupancy, DC's public charter schools often face a different problem: space limitations and growing student bodies.  "Every charter school gradually adds grades per year, and many charter schools close because they can't grow because they can't solve this facility problem," said Lerner.

Lerner said Washington Latin started in 2006 with 179 but that the school now served 600 students from all eight wards of the District in grades 5-12.  The school offers bus pickups for students in Ward 3, where the school first began in 2006, and at Union Station.

The Rudolph School closed in 2008 due to low enrollment
Most charter schools, Lerner said, open in temporary locations because they don't have full enrollment when they open.  "Parents and staff become eventually dissatisfied if you don't have appropriate facilities," he told DCMud.  "Our being awarded Rudolph is a major milestone for the school," Lerner said.  "It gives us a permanent space."

Deputy Mayor for Education De'Shawn Wright wrote in a press release, "Ultimately, the panel recommended Washington Latin based on a strong performance record and an exciting proposal for reusing the building."

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Anonymous said...

This is a great move for Washington Latin and a very positive development for the surrounding neighborhood. I hope that Latin finds the funding to renovate the school building, which is in tough shape.

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