Greater Greater Education

Residents urge DC to make Shaed a recreation center

Many Ward 5 residents oppose awarding a former DCPS building to a charter school, saying there are already enough charter schools in the area. But under existing law, charters will have the first opportunity to bid on the property.


The former Alice and Ernestine Shaed Elementary School. All photos by the author.

At a crowded public hearing Wednesday evening, some Edgewood residents urged that the now-closed Shaed Elementary School be developed into a recreation center. With so many charter schools in the area already, they said a recreation center would be of more use to the community than another school. But district regulations give charters the first opportunity to bid on the property, which DC officials say is too large for a recreation center anyway.

The Shaed building is located at 301 Douglass St NE at Lincoln Road in Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie's Ward 5 and ANC Commissioner C. Dianne Barnes 5E09 Angela Blanks' 5E10 single member district.

Indeed, there are already 7 charter schools in this area of Ward 5.

The hearing took place in the very hot and humid field house of the existing Edgewood Recreation Center, at 300 Evarts Street NE. Several people at the meeting noted that the small field house is clearly inadequate to meet the needs of the neighborhood.

Officials from the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), the Department of General Services (DGS), and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education were on hand to explain the decision to surplus Shaed ES, which is adjacent to the recreation center, and explain the process for its redevelopment. DCPS closed Shaed at the end of the 2011 school year because of low enrollment.

Bids for Shaed Elementary from "eligible applicants" are due August 30. The District has defined "eligible applicants" as existing charter schools or schools that have received conditional approval for their charter applications.

Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Debbie Smith-Steiner (5E01) and several other community representatives urged that Shaed be redeveloped as a community recreation center. But DPR Director Jesus Aguirre responded that Shaed, a 70,000-square-foot facility, is much too large to be converted into a recreation center.

Aguirre did assure residents that the District would consider their requests for a new recreation center during the next round of budget negotiations. He distributed printed surveys and encouraged residents to submit their concerns through an online survey or send them to playdc@dc.gov.

Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser, who briefly attended the meeting, told community members that the government intends to maintain some control over the recreational area around the footprint of the Shaed building whether it is ultimately leased to a charter school or not.

Several charter school representatives attended the hearing to listen to the concerns of the community, but none made remarks or presented plans.

Several residents described the Shaed building, which has been vacant for two years, as a poorly maintained blight on the neighborhood. DGS is responsible for maintaining the building but has not done an adequate job of managing the properties in its portfolio.

Considering that the official DGS announcements for the public meeting used an incorrect address for the Edgewood Recreation Center, some might wonder whether DGS officials even know where all their properties are located. (The DC Register and DGS announcements indicated the public meeting would be held at 3 Evarts Street NE instead of 300 Evarts Street.)

In addition to Aguirre, other officials at the meeting included Jackie Stanley, representing the DC Department of General Services, and Marc Bleyer of the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education. They assured the audience that the community would have additional opportunities to comment on the development of the Shaed property.


East side of Shaed Elementary.


South side of Shaed Elementary near entrance.
Martin Moulton is an education advocate who lives in the Shaw neighborhood. He is originally from California where he attended public, private and parochial schools. He works in the tech sector. A life long cyclist/non-driver, he serves on the board of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. Moulton has served as a consultant to KIPP DC in its community outreach. 

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I think that the more charter schools with permanent homes there are, the better for a neighborhood. People will move to the neighborhood once their kids get into a good school there and it will increase property values. The difference between charter schools with permanent and temporary locations is like the difference between property values near a rail stop vs. a bus stop.

by sbc on Aug 23, 2013 12:31 pm • linkreport

I really get the neighborhood position here. They aren't short on school seats there. The shortfalls are in other parts of the City. It would be nice if the focus was on making space available where charters are really growing and the city's families are too. Charters are just moving up to Uptown/Ward 5, etc., because space is there. Not because they have huge populations there that they are trying to serve.

by andy on Aug 23, 2013 2:45 pm • linkreport

There were a few loud residents that were anti charter school. From the hundreds of neighbors I have talked to they are split- many neighbors with young kids or on the way and they would love a high quality Montessori school for elementary since they could walk there. If a school come neighborhood preference is key. We all want an actual rec center and programming- neighbors have been advocating for years. I did a write up on the meeting too on my blog. Gives an Edgewood resident perspective.

As I tweeted- ANC is 5E10.

by Sally on Aug 23, 2013 3:14 pm • linkreport

Also your list of charter schools was for the 20017 zipcode and while some are close that part of Edgewood is in the 20002 zipcode. Edgewood is split between the two zipcodes.

by Sally on Aug 24, 2013 7:06 am • linkreport

Many Ward 5 residents, myself included, who have young children and stress about the school lotteries (and sending our children to charters with short-term leases) would LOVE to see a charter school go into the Shaed space. I'd also love another rec center, since population in this area of town is growing. But Shaed was designed as a school. So I hope it can be a school again!

by Ward 5 resident on Aug 26, 2013 9:57 am • linkreport

Like Ward 5 Resident, I have to agree, DCPS has just not earned the trust of Ward 5 parents, with over half not attending schools in the ward. I would love to see a charter that can invest in the building come to the neighborhood. Also Turkey Thicket is not that far from there, I think it would be some duplication given the size of the Shaed space. Alternatively, I would also love to see a DC Public Library go into that space.

by DC Parent on Aug 27, 2013 11:34 am • linkreport

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