Jennifer D. Cogswell (http://www.flickr.com/photos/cityyear/5735107577/)
DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson says a complete reconstruction of Ballou High School is a good long-term investment because it’s one of the largest schools in the city and serves a population that includes many high-risk students.
D.C.'s Mayor Vincent Gray has decided to rebuild Ballou Senior High School even though it's expected to cost several million dollars more than the approximately $60 million it would cost to renovate.
The renovation is part of the District's efforts to "modernize" every public school in the city.
City Administrator Allen Lew says it makes sense to build a brand new Ballou Senior High School in southeast, D.C. He says schools such as Cardozo and Eastern were historic buildings in very good shape so they were restored. But Ballou, he says, is more like Dunbar High School.
"Some of the schools built in the last 30 to 40 years ago followed certain trends," says Lew. "They were open classroom schools or they were buildings with windows that look like concrete bunkers."
DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson says Ballou is one of the largest high schools and serves a population that includes many high-risk students. She says a complete reconstruction is a good long-term investment both financially and psychologically.
"The environment has an incredible psychic effect," says Henderson. "We communicate to our kids what we think about them in terms of the buildings. And when we send them into dilapidated buildings everyday it says we don’t really care."
Henderson says providing students a new building improves their chances of learning.
Later this month Janney Elementary and Wilson and Woodson High Schools will reopen either substantially renovated or completed rebuilt. Several elementary schools will reopen with smaller classroom renovation projects completed in time for the new school year.