New System for Public Hearings on School Closings


Dissatisfied by the outcome of the lengthy hearings on the DCPS school closing and consolidation plan, concerned citizens continue to fight to have their voices heard. Last Tuesday, they assembled at Savoy Elementary School to express their concerns to City Council Members David Catania, Muriel Bowser and Marion Barry. Unlike a standard town hall meeting, where individuals have free reign of the public platform, this event was structured as a series of small group discussions. A facilitator was provided to each group to takes notes that were later shared with the room. This format was intended to foster clear and equitable communication among all participants, but potentially squelched the passion that would be expressed through unregulated individual testimony.

Another forum that DCPS has provided for pubic input on school closings is the Idea Submission webpage, where the public is asked to share “creative and innovative ideas for improving our school consolidation and reorganization proposal.” The posts on this site are a mixture of small group notes from the Savoy meeting (“Ward 8 Meeting, Table Notes 1, Nancy Huvendick, Facilitator- NancyH13”), earnest commentary from parents (“Just doesn’t make any sense- Tiffany G”) and inspired suggestions from stakeholders (“Save Davis Elementary- Make it a pilot Japanese Immersion- Diona K”).

The Idea Submission Page offers unlimited space for citizen testimony, but is anyone actually listening to these online appeals? Does The Council see this site as a breeding ground for innovation, or a sound proof pen for disgruntled constituents? The actual impact of any advocacy is unknown until it takes effect, so for now, those with opinions on school closings should utilize all available mediums so we can figure out the best plan for DCPS.


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