Stoddert Elementary School in Glover Park was renovated and expanded a little over ten years ago and then experienced enrollment overcapacity within a few years of completion. Since then, the overcrowding has gotten more severe, with six semi-permanent trailers now taking up most of the parking lot. Current student capacity is 320, while current enrollment is over 500 and expected to grow. DC Public School (DCPS) officials have not acknowledged the overcapacity, citing the trailer space. Yet, the extra seats in the parking lot do not address a litany of other overcapacity issues, including: security of trailers, crowded halls, inadequate kitchen and lunch space, crowded bathrooms, inadequate space and resources for non-core programs like art, music and technology, inadequate space for extra staff required, and the lack of pre-K capacity and resources which has reduced capacity to 19 students, when the demand is in the hundreds.
A second expansion of Stoddert was written into the DC Capital Improvements Plan (CIP) budget for 2021 and beyond, only to disappear mysteriously in the latest version. The budget for expansions for both Stoddert and Key Elementary were replaced with a plan to build a new school from the ground up next to the Lab School (the old Hardy school) in Foxhall, taking up the soccer field next to the Lab School (goodbye nice green open field). Construction would not begin until 2024 at the earliest and is budgeted to cost $56 million. It is not expected to be ready for occupancy until 2026 (does that mean 2028 in the real world?). The Stoddert expansion plan was budgeted at $20 million.
It seems that the person in charge of the DC public school capital improvements is Deputy Mayor for Education Paul Kihn, who was appointed by Mayor Bowser in 2018. It is unclear if DCPS Chancellor Lewis Ferebee had any say in the decision that was made without public input. Mary Cheh, Councilmember for Ward 3, has written a letter to Deputy Mayor Kihn urging reconsideration of the Stoddert expansion plan as a cost-effective solution to the current problem. Stoddert Parent Teacher Organization co-presidents Lucie Leblois and Jorge Highland are working with Councilmember Cheh in advance of a July 21st DC Council meeting to decide the fate of Stoddert overcrowding. If you care about this issue, please voice your opinion by filling out this form here. The deadline to be heard is July 20th at 9:00 am. Speak now, or forever hold your peace.