Wednesday, June 20, 2012

McMillan site: discussion about integrating a school into the mix

See this email thread:

From Todd Crosby:

Right...well, i do know that this has been discussed and rejected before. However, i think that perhaps this time there might be interest on behalf of the developers who are seeking a way to get the community to buy in. This would be a clear way to do so. To be clear, the idea isn't to ONLY have a school on this site...but to integrate it into a larger development plan. So it would be more of a vertical facility, sort of an inner city type facility rather than a large sprawling school like the ones that currently exist in DC....which would take up the entire site practically. So that is where this idea differs from those previously proposed. This would make it only one part of a larger development. I just think that if it enters into the public realm, you might see a whole lot of interest in the idea. I for one know many people who are already planning to move out because of the lack of schools. It is really unfortunate.
On Jun 19, 2012, From Scott Roberts:

1) I will be frank.The discussion about a school of any kind on the site is absolutely 100% Dead On Arrival. Name a development project on city-owned property that includes a new-construction school building of any kind. You won't be able to name any, because I beileve that DMPED has indicated that no schools will be built on city-owned properties. Dead dead dead. Should the discussion therefore be truncated? No. It can certainly continue! But I am just letting know that It Will Go Nowhere.
2) Could you ask everyone on this email thread if they mind if I post the discussion? I would prefer explicit approval before I do so. Thanks.
And thanks for monitoring and participating in the McMillan discussion from across the globe!
== Scott ==
From: ANC Commissioner Hugh Youngblood
Date: June 19, 2012 3:43:07 PM GMT
To: Miriam Gusevich,  Malcolm Taylor
Cc: "John T. Salatti" <>,, Mueller Mark <>, Tony Norman <>, Larry Chang <>, Todd Crosby <>
Subject: Re: Charter School integrated into the McMillan plan?

Mr. Malcolm Taylor called me this more with a supplemental suggestion to include a boarding school on the McMillan Park campus.
Malcolm, can you please elaborate?
Thank you,
On Fri, Jun 15, 2012 at 11:33 AM, Todd Crosby wrote:
Sure... unfortunately, we've attended the "meet the schools" days at many of the local schools and we just didn't feel comfortable with their level yet...and the facilities were abominable. It's just a hard decision when you have the best schools in the country in Montgomery and Fairfax countries and some of the worst here in DC. The Charters are fabulous, including Yu Ying and MV...but nowadays it's like getting your kid into Harvard...and it's only kindergarden!

On Jun 15, 2012, at 2:23 PM, John T. Salatti wrote:
Great ideas, Todd!
I will note that our local public schools around Bloomingdale have been steadily improving. The biggest difficulty has been getting enough Bloomingdale parents to buy into the local schools. Those that have are quite pleased with Langley Campus. If we could get a real sizable number of families to commit to Langley, it would quickly rise to the top tier of DC schools.
Bloomingdale has a few families at Yu Ying Charter School--the Chinese immersion school--which is just north of Catholic U. I know some very active parents there who would be happy to talk about their efforts. I also have a neighbor who has been involved in the development of Mundo Verde Charter School. MV is a Spanish-immersion school with a focus on environmental and green matters. MV has put in a bid for either the Cook or Langston School in Truxton Circle. We could talk with them as well.
We also have ties to people in the federal government interested in food issues. I have helped bring some of them to Common Good City Farm (almost got the First Lady to visit).
All that said, a school at McMillan would be an interesting idea. It is an idea that was floated in the past. Howard U wanted to move its own middle school from the Howard campus to McMillan. But because a school would generate no revenue for the city, the idea was always ignored.

On Jun 15, 2012, at 11:37 AM, Todd Crosby wrote:
No, this is an idea that simply came to me as I was talking to a friend (visiting me here in Dakar) about his travails of getting his child into a charter school in DC...he's moving to Takoma park unfortunately.I think that in order to save people from moving out immediately, it should be an K- thru elementary grade school, probably starting younger and then adding grades as the first class moves thru possibly going up thru middle school..but you'd have to talk to people more in the know about the charter school movement about how it works. My understanding of charter schools is that they seek out existing facilities but the founders of these schools themselves don't actually design or build the facilities themselves. However, why not work with some architects to design our own charter school? I believe that there is a critical mass of families now in the area that would be very engaged in such an undertaking. I would say a vertical facility with a vertical farm integrated into it would be very interesting.

Also, given the interest of Michele Obama in nutrition and urban urban ag focused program is likely something that would attract alot of attention and become high profile very quickly, possibly getting federal support. After all, given the food crisis in the world, It's an idea whose time has come. I currently work on a Feed the Future program (Obama's signature development assistance program thru USAID) here in Senegal. Funding could be provided by a whole range of entities interested in education and the future of urban/green agriculture....from federal, city, foundation and business (though you'd want to vet that carefully given the whole GMO controversies). Could even be called the "Feed the Future" Charter School...

On Jun 15, 2012, at 11:09 AM, Miriam Gusevich wrote:
Dear Mr. Crosby
Excellent idea. Do you have any suggestions on the grade, size of facilities, kind of school, etc..? Know anyone who might provide this information?
thank you
Miriam Gusevich

On Fri, Jun 15, 2012 at 7:04 AM, Commissioner Hugh Youngblood <> wrote:
Dear Mr. Crosby,
Thank you for your kind and thoughtful message.I've also copied Commissioner Mark Mueller on this response; Mark serves the SMD vacated by Commissioner Salatti and also lives on W Street.
Integrating education and urban agriculture into the future of McMillan Park sounds like a wonderful idea. Let's please explore this concept further together.
Also, please tune into today's Kojo Show featuring Council Chairman Mendelson if possible to learn more about our city's bright future.
Talk to you soon,
On Jun 15, 2012, at 6:10, Todd Crosby <> wrote:

Hi ANC commissioners,
We listened to Kojo's show yesterday from here in Dakar, Senegal, where my family is tracking the development of the McMillan site near our home on 20W street in Bloomingdale. We stay as integrated as possible from Africa and we look forward to returning to the community in a few years and we are amazed at the changes that are taking place. Kudos to you all!
One of the most pressing issues that many families in Bloomingdale currently face is having access to a state of the art schools on our side of town. Many people are looking at moving out of the community in a few years if they cannot find appropriate schooling for their children... this is a common story in Washington DC among those who can't afford 25K per year for private schools. Emery and the public schools just aren't up to par and don't possess the state of the art facilities that we should have in our nation's capital. I know that when my son reaches Kindergarden, if we cannot get him in via lottery (and several of my friends have faced this situation), we will have to move out to Maryland or Virginia to access good public schools. I know many many people in Bloomingdale who are counting those days and feeling uncomfortable. We love it in Bloomingdale and want to live there forever!
This McMillan development proposed by VMP would be much more interesting to a good number of families in Bloomingdale if a charter school campus was integrated into the mix. Further, this type of thing could automatically ensure that more green space be integrated into the plan (play fields..etc). Even more interesting and innovative would be a school with a strong focus on urban that would be amazing and probably the first of it's kind in the nation...ensuring that McMillan becomes a model development in the nation's capital.

In any case, another idea to add to your pile!
Salutations from Dakar, Senegal. Best to you.


Unknown said...

I'm a resident of W street and have just gone through the public and charter school lotteries. It totally sucks.

I would like to add my voice of support for a proposal like one our far flung neighbor purposes.

An urban design school on Macmillan would certainly change my opinion of the development there, perhaps altering my desire for the whole thing to just be turned into green space - it seems a little selfish on the face of it, but my feelings a that development there now seems inevitable and it would be something I could get much more behind should there be more in it for the growing community of parents/young children in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Scott Roberts of Bloomingdale said...

Here is a comment from another resident on the unit block of W Street NW:

I agree wholeheartedly with my neighbor on W Street!

I have a toddler and my primary political/social issue of concern is education in the DC public school system. Our Bloomingdale neighbors - from families that have been here for generations to relative newcomers - have struggled with the quality of education available to their children in this neighborhood. Most of my neighbors with grown children sent them to private school and many of my neighbors with young children send them to charter schools or public schools in other neighborhoods through the lottery.

Residents have been fenced out of the McMillan green space for decades and just as Bloomingdale deserves that park and recreation space, it also deserves excellent schooling within walking distance. I look at a stellar school like Two Rivers and see no reason why Bloomingdale can't have a school like that.

Bravo to Todd & the community leaders on this post who are willing to take up the cause of a vertical, urban, green charter school as part of the McMillan site. I can think of no better way to engage the community in this development project that many of us are rightly skeptical about.