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Alexandria School Considers Public-Private Partnership

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Jefferson-Houston School is across the street from the King Street Metro station in Alexandria, Va.
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Jefferson-Houston School is across the street from the King Street Metro station in Alexandria, Va.

By Michael Pope

Damon Colbert lives near the King Street Metro station, directly across the street from Jefferson-Houston School, which has struggled for years with failing test scores and dwindling enrollment.

Now school officials say the building needs to be replaced, and they've suggested allowing a developer to use part of the land if they pay for the new school. Colbert says he's concerned the developer would want too much density.

"If I had known the School Board was planning to destroy our neighborhood, frankly I would not have purchased this house. I would have purchased east of here, where this would have never happened," says Colbert.

But Superintendent Morton Sherman says this kind of deal has been successful in D.C. near another Metro stop. He says an agreement could benefit everybody.

"This gives us the school at no cost to the taxpayers. So if you don't like that model, then we need $30 million to build a school," says Sherman.

Neighbors who oppose the plan have launched a petition drive, and they're hoping to get a seat at the table when the agreement is negotiated.

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