DCPS Chancellor Talks Education at ANC 7D


Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 7D met May 9 via Zoom. Commissioners Siraaj Hasan (7D01), Wendell Felder (7D03, chair), Commissioner Mike Davis (7D04), Ebony Payne (7D05), Marc Friend (7D06), Brett Astmann (7D07, treasurer), Brian Alcorn (7D08, vice chair), Ashley Schapitl (7D09), secretary) and Brianne Eby (7D10) were in attendance. Single Member District 7D02 remains vacant.

DC Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor Lewis Ferebee appeared before the commission to outline several newly implemented initiatives to improve academic opportunities and performance for students.

Acknowledging the shortcomings of online education throughout the pandemic, he noted the “lack of mastery and proficiency” in mathematics as a priority. A comprehensive solution, Ferebee said, includes involving parents to help implement learning outside the classroom.

He also highlighted new in-school programming, Building Blocks, that will start in elementary school and aims to have all students prepared for algebra by eighth grade.

“We are doubling down on our efforts and building math fluency and expanding the math curriculum. That starts with our early child education program,” Ferebee said.

School Transportation Transportation was also discussed by the commission. Commissioner Astmann presented concerns about the “soft spot” of the school busses. He noted that transportation to and from extracurricular activities and sporting events is not happening so events and games are being missed.

Following an accident, Ferebee reported a “pivot in policy” noting several transportation challenges and the national shortage of bus drivers for the issues. He expressed confidence in the current contracts DCPS has with driving companies to get students where they need to go.

Chair Felder inquired about school safety practices. The Chancellor outlined how various agencies, including contract security, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and school resource officers, collaborate to promote and maintain safety for students and staff. “We all work together,” Ferebee said.

Equity, Ferebee noted, also remains a top priority of DCPS as pandemic recovery continues. “We have some of the most significant socio- economic disparities in our city and want to ensure that students that are not in the communities as well-resourced as others are getting the best possible educational experience,” he said.

Ferebee emphasized that while there are “never enough” resources, DCPS remains grateful to DC Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) for the funding allocated to the schools and resources to support students with additional needs including English language learning and special education.

Other Matters

School boundaries were last adjusted in 2014 and will again be adjusted in 2024 for the 2025- 2026 school year. The District is currently conducting a boundary study to develop recommendations for these assignments. Visit dme.dc.gov/ boundaries2023 for more information.

Erwin Stierle from the DC Chapter of the American Red Cross encouraged community members to consider volunteering, particularly in Ward 7, where they are experiencing a shortage. Visit redcross.org to learn more, donate and to sign up for opportunities in the neighborhood.

Friends of the DC Streetcar will host a community meeting on October 16 at 7 p.m. at the Marshall Heights Community Development Headquarters (3939 Benning Road NE). They are planning to discuss the future of the project, particularly in regards to its extension east of the river. Visit friendsofdcstreetcar.wixsite.com for more information and to RSVP for the event.

The Commission voted to:

• appoint several community members to serve on the ANC’s Transportation and Public Safety committees;

• ask Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen (D) and Ward 7 Council member Vincent Gray (D) to rename a portion of 1300-1600 Blocks of A Street NE to honor the Eastern High School Marching Band.

ANC 7D will meet next on October 10 at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom. You can learn more about the commission and register to attend at 7d0761.wixsite.com/anc7d-1.

Sarah Payne is a reporter for Capital Community News. She can be reached at sarahp@hillrag.com