Last month, DCPS held an informational meeting on the future high school that Georgetown students will feed into. Here is some key takeaways from that presentation.
First, just as a recap: the city is planning a new high school to address crowding at the only “west of the park” general public high school: Jackson-Reed (fka Wilson High School). Right now, both Hardy and Deal middle schools feed up to Jackson-Reed. The plan calls for Hardy students to start feeding into the new high school.
The location of the new high school is the former lower and middle school of Georgetown Day School on MacArthur Blvd. GDS consolidated its entire school into the former upper school campus on Wisconsin Ave. near Tenleytown. The city bought the MacArthur Blvd property in March 2021.
Here are some additional pieces of information:
The city hopes to have the new high school opened by fall 2023. The mayor has budgeted $45 million to convert the structure–which previously served PK4 through 8th grade–to a high school.
Consistent with prior communications, students graduating from Hardy will have rights to attend the new high school. Additionally, any student living in the current Hardy zone will be considered in-boundary for the new high school and have the right to attend.
The city has also pledged to set aside seats at the new high school for at-risk students from across the city. This includes students experiencing homelessness, SNAP recipients, and children in the foster care system. There was some previous confusion about whether there would be a minimum number of seats set-aside for out of boundary students or these at-risk students. Earlier comments suggested that there would be 500 out-of-boundary seats. The schools chancellor later clarified that they simply anticipate there being about the same number of out of boundary students at the high school as at Hardy (approximately 38%). The mechanics of how all this will work is still unclear. It would appear, however, that what out of boundary seats there are will be prioritized to at-risk students. (Keep in mind that any student that already attends Hardy from out of boundary will have the right to attend the new high school regardless.)
There will also be an effort to make the school available to students with special needs.
Additionally, while the school is opening next fall, the transition will not be sudden. DCPS is working out a phase-in process to adjust the feeder pattern. In other words, not all students graduating 8th grade from Hardy next year will be forced to attend the new school. For instance, it appears that siblings of Jackson-Reed students will likely be able to continue on to that school for some period.
Finally, DCPS is referring to the new school at “MacArthur High School” but only as a temporary measure. The permanent name will be decided later in consultation with the school community. Personally GM would like to see the Western High School name returned, but the trend seems to be going towards using naming opportunities to highlight black historical figures, particularly those with an attachment to DC and its school system (Jackson Reed is named after the first black teacher and the first black principal of Wilson High). So reviving the Western name seems unlikely to GM.
There will be a Zoom meeting tonight for Hardy families to learn more.