Last night the ANC met for it’s November session. GM sadly has been absent from a whole bunch of the ANC meetings recently due to being too busy, but he was there last night (for the first half at least). Here’s what he saw:
It wasn’t the first issue discussed, but from GM’s perspective the Hyde discussion was the most important part of the evening. Whether it will change anything is to be seen.
The context for the discussion is the recent decision by the Deputy Mayor of Education Jennie Niles to insist on using Meyer School for the swing location during Hyde’s renovation. The ANC expressed a frustration with this decision in line with what many of the Hyde parents are feeling.
After listing just some of the negative ramifications from this terrible decision, and listening to the complaints of some parents, the commission adopted a resolution forcefully calling for the Mayor and the DME to reject the Meyer option and work with the community to identify a workable local option.
That last part is key, because the commission did not specifically identify a particular location. Hardy has been the most promising location given the imminent closure of Fillmore Arts Center, which would leave a large part of Hardy available. This decision was in part to avoid conflict on the very next motion which address the closure of Fillmore.
Commissioner Birch offered a motion to object to the closure of Fillmore Arts Center on the grounds that schools that use it have no other options for art and music classroom space. If Fillmore would remain open at Hardy, of course, this would prevent Hyde from using that space. It’s a bit of a quandary.
GM was a bit, shall we say, miffed when a father from Burleith who has a child or children at Stoddert stood to support the motion. He acknowledged the quandary but then suggested that for “equity purposes” Fillmore should remain and Hyde should….well he didn’t really say what Hyde should do.
But here’s the thing, the Hyde community is in this nightmare because, among other reason (but not that many other reasons), his neighbors started a massive email campaign last year to stop Hyde from using the Duke Ellington Field. Now he wants to prevent Hyde from using Hardy too. Here’s an idea: if Fillmore is so important to the Burleith community, they can house it in trailers on the Ellington Field. You know, for equity reasons.
Here’s a real compromise: If the Fillmore schools really want to keep the program alive, find another space for it. There’s no reason it has to remain in Hardy and since kids have to travel to it anyway, moving it to another location won’t be an undue burden, at least nowhere near the burden that Hyde families are being asked to bear. Moreover, it’s clear that this program is politically unpopular with DCPS administrators. One way to gain political good will would be to move it to a more central location and open it to other schools (i.e. more diverse schools).
The ANC passed the resolution in support of keeping Fillmore, by the way. Commissioner Jeff Jones, who has carried a ton of the burden on the Hyde saga, abstained. He rightly recognized that to negotiate with the Mayor or Niles, he has to speak with a clear voice, and because it lacked language suggesting that Fillmore could succeed at a different location, this resolution muddies the ANC’s voice.
Either way, here’s the key takeaway: the Mayor will speak at the Citizens Association of Georgetown on November 29th. It is imperative for all supporters of keeping a local swing for Hyde to come out and let their voices be heard. It is probably one of the last chances to affect her decision.
One more substantive item GM will mention is parking. The ANC adopted a resolution last month objecting to DDOT’s proposed parking regulations. Among the objectionable provisions identified by the resolution were the provisions for resident-only parking on one side of the street. The ANC adopted a resolution objecting to these rules straight out.
Apparently some on the Commission regretted the my-way-or-the-highway approach. Commissioner Jones proposed an add-on resolution that essentially states that whatever DDOT does, it should consult with the community and allow for a more nuanced approach than to apply the same parking rules across the whole neighborhood. (The rules would allow for one side of the street to be resident-only, but it would apply that scheme across the whole neighborhood). Some on the Commission feared that this was really just a backtrack on the ANC’s previous resolution and could be read to be implicitly approving the change. After a small word change, though, it passed with two commissioners abstaining.