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Hearst Elementary Parents Want Answers On Renovation

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Hearst Elementary students turned up with their parents at a public meeting October 16 to urge the District to fully fund a renovation of the school.
Kavitha Cardoza
  Hearst Elementary students turned up with their parents at a public meeting October 16 to urge the District to fully fund a renovation of the school.

Parents at Hearst Elementary School in Northwest D.C. are pushing for answers about their school's scheduled renovation. 

Hearst was repeatedly promised a fully modernized school with new classrooms, a gym and cafeteria by the next academic year, parents said during a meeting on the renovation Tuesday night. Now, after more than a year of planning, they want to know when the funding will be available.

Tanisha Lewis, has two children at Hearst Elementary, believes the school has simply outgrown its space.

"Our 3rd graders through 5th graders are in trailers, and the 4th and 5th grade classes don't have restrooms, so the kids have to move from a trailer outside to use the bathroom inside during all types of weather," she said. "We have an autism program that is excellent, and right now some of our kids are receiving their therapy sessions in the hallway."

David Dickinson, the school PTA president, echoed the frustration and anger many parents felt when he asked city representatives this question.

"I think the fundamental question is, 'Where is the money?'" he said. "That's why we're here."

The city has already set aside $9 million but for construction to start as scheduled in December, the mayor needs to allot an additional $5 million in the next few months. And more money will be needed later.

D.C. Council member Mary Cheh was at the meeting, and said chances the money will be available are "pretty good."

"For example, Wilson High School started on the drawing board as something in the nature of $60 million. It wound up as this beautiful building for  $120 million. Money needed to be added along the way and we found a way to do it."

Parents at this school vow they will keep the pressure on their elected officials until that happens.

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