Updated: Jun 12
Spring is budget season in Washington DC – everyone’s favorite time of year! The city’s proposed FY 2024 budget, as well as the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA) budget for rail and bus, have been floated for comment among the populace. Both will affect Glover Park residents in significant ways, some positive and some negative. The budgets in particular will impact police coverage, student experience and public transportation.
Last year, Mayor Muriel Bowser promised to add 347 police officers to the roster to combat a rise in crime, and in particular a rise in serious and violent crime. The reality a year later has fallen short, not necessarily because of a broken promise, but for two reasons: The Metropolitan Police Department cannot keep its officers, and Mayor Bowser was facing a $1.5 billion budget deficit in light of reduced commercial revenues in the past year and needs to tighten here and there. MPD is budgeted to lose 132 patrol officers (or full time equivalents as defined in the budget) compared to FY 2023. Police Chief Contee, according the Washington Post, has stated that for every 20 hires each month he is losing 30-35 officers. DC’s police force now is at a 50-year low. Maybe fed up with the situation, Chief Contee just announced last night that he is stepping down to take a position with the FBI. Talk to any police officer in the neighborhood and they will explain the challenge of keeping up with all crime calls when they are stretched thin and must respond instead to an increase in violent crimes. When was the last time you saw a patrol car driving slowly through the neighborhood to keep an eye on things? They used to do this years ago. The city does not publish its budget by police district but don’t hold your breath on Glover Park’s Second District getting the resources it needs this coming year.
Well, Glover Park’s D2 bus route is on the chopping block again for a third year in a row. This time around, though, it is part of a comprehensive overhaul of DC’s bus system that will take years to implement, though they must make some changes by later this year to serve the new MacArthur High School. While WMATA is not proposing to eliminate bus stops within the Glover Park neighborhood this time, they are changing the route and in particular the Metrorail connection which will impact commuters significantly. The new routes (the 201, 101 and 100) greatly benefit students, as they offer direct routes from within Glover Park to Jackson Reed High School, the new MacArthur High School, American University and Georgetown University (north entrance), while continuing to serve Stoddert Elementary and Hardy Middle School directly. For commuters, the changes are more problematic – the direct route to the Dupont Circle metro has been eliminated, and commuters must either transfer buses at Reservoir Road or walk to Wisconsin Avenue to take a direct route to Foggy Bottom metro – not disastrous but certainly more difficult, adding time to a commute. [Click on the PDF at the bottom to see the full route map.] Does the decision to change these routes need to be “one or the other” or is there a middle ground that can serve students as well as those needing a convenient downtown connection? The bus frequency and ease of connection is uncertain at the moment but WMATA is defining “high frequency” and “medium frequency” routes (see map). WMATA has created a child-like design for their Better Bus website to promote the major system changes. Maybe the nursery school aura is intended to soften the blow of the harsh reality of DC budgeting. You can weigh in with comments at the Better Bus website, and lots of people do need to comment if you approve or disapprove of this plan. WMATA makes decisions based on ridership data as well as surveys and comments, and the D2 bus in Glover Park still is way down on ridership (see charts at bottom) compared to years ago.
Stoddert Elementary School’s enrollment is expected to rise only slightly this fall, to 451 students. Enrollment is way up from years ago, yet has leveled out in the last couple of years. The operating budget, though has been reduced from last year and is below even the 2021 expenses. While the number of teachers remains steady, the number of aides (those giving more individual attention based on various needs such as learning disabilities or English as second language) will drop by a net of 3 full time equivalents. It usually is a challenge for the Stoddert principal to manage a tight budget while giving students a broad learning experience, and the belt is just a little bit tighter this coming school year. On the positive side, the school expansion is in the 2024 Capital Improvements Plan ($10 mil. this year, plus $10 mil next year), and with the leveling-off of the student population, hopefully the school will have enough room for all students within a couple of years and the trailers in the parking lot will become a distant bad memory (or is that wishful thinking).
Proposed Stoddert Expansion Plan Schematic:
By the way, in case you are concerned about all this talk of recession and budget deficits and balancing tight budgets, don’t worry – Mayor Bowser has a solution: to add 342 more automated traffic enforcement cameras to generate an additional $500+ million from all you car drivers! Not kidding - it’s in the budget. Who would have thought the solution was that easy….
GLOVER PARK D2 BUS RIDERSHIP DATA: