Deputy Mayor of Education Jennie Niles should be fired.
That is the only conclusion you can reach after considering the shameful manner in which DCPS has handled the Hyde-Addison expansion project. The most recent disaster was well summarized in the Current this week, and GM recommends you pick up a copy and read it.
In short, as discussed by GM last week, Niles appeared before the Hyde School Improvement Team (SIT) last week to announce a decision on the location of a swing site for the school during the construction. Despite word from Jack Evans’ office that the mayor had decided to choose Hardy as the location, Niles announced that in fact the horrible choice of Meyer Elementary school–nearly four miles away across town–would be the location.
Oh, and the project itself was going to be significantly reduced, with the cafeteria and gym sharing an underground space.
The Current put a little more meat on the bone reporting that the mayor had indeed decided on using Hardy before Niles talked her out of it. Why? Niles didn’t say at the SIT meeting and she won’t say now either.
Here’s GM’s opinion: Based upon what he’s seen, DCPS never, never, seriously considered using Hardy. The plans that they did put forward appeared to be intentionally bad. They would use far too much of Hardy’s open space and did not appear to creatively use the space within Hardy that will be empty once the Fillmore program ends.
GM has reason to believe they never even spoke with the Hardy principal to seek creative solutions. Last year when a group of parents on their own initiative met with her, it was clear that nobody at DCPS had even spoken with her yet. GM doubts they ever did. (The Current article said that nobody at the Hardy PTA was ever contacted.)
GM believes the orders were clear: do the bare minimum to find enough reason not to choose Hardy. So when the mayor decided on the Hardy plan, the problem was that there was no Hardy plan.
Why is Niles so insistent on using Meyer? GM has no clue. It’s a terrible choice and there’s a significant likelihood that it won’t even be available by next August. That’s because that other disaster, Duke Ellington School, needs to be done first. GM is willing to bet a decent amount of money that that will not happen. And we’ll be back here again talking about another year delay. And they’ll still be insisting on Meyer.
There must be some reason Niles is fixated on this option but she won’t explain. And for that disrespect alone, she needs to go.
Consider this: Lets say some miracle occurs and Duke Ellington School is completed on time. And then lets assume DCPS goes ahead and ends Fillmore Arts next year as it says it will. Remember that even once open Duke Ellington School will be half empty all the time. With Fillmore gone, Hardy will be half empty too. And yet with all these empty DCPS school rooms in Georgetown, Georgetown kids as young as three will be put on buses to drive 4 miles through traffic to attend their “local” school. And by DCPS’s own optimistic estimates, the kids could be stuck in a bus over an hour each day.
For two years.
You may not have young kids. Or perhaps you have young kids but have opted out of public schools. But just consider what all of this means about how little your government officials think of Georgetown kids.
And if this is what they think of our kids, what do you think they think of you?
Deputy Mayor Jennie Niles should be fired. And if the mayor won’t do that, then she should be fired too.