When DCPS neighborhood schools start being modernized, families have to travel farther—often much farther—to the school’s swing space. That often precipitates a decision to switch schools. But then, when the school comes back to its regular location and a beautiful new building, it’s more attractive than ever and many families want to enroll.
I’m interested in which schools get modernized. Is there a systemic plan or is it just ad hoc (or they see a school is really falling apart and it gets bumped to top of list). Is it done evenly by ward or do they take into account things like racial equity? What are the oldest schools that have never been modernized?
I think this headline makes too sweeping a claim, even if it feels intuitively true. I recommend comparing these enrollment changes to 10-year enrollment forecasts developed by the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education. Without looking at the already expected growth, it’s misleading to assume any enrollment growth is due to a modernization.
Given the other data points on how proximity to home is so important, we can have an educated guess that swing spaces far away hurt enrollment, at least temporarily. There’s also the issue of perceptions of school quality. If a school is deemed highly desirable, some parents will drive their kids across town for the school- we see this in the charter sector. What about the schools for which there isn’t a long waiting list?
While new families may replace the lost ones after modernization, the schools may never get the lost families back. I know this doesn’t matter from a DCPS enrollment numbers perspective, but it matters from a loss of community perspective.