What the heck is going on? Suddenly, and without explanation, Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles has gone against just-made agreements, common sense and the clear will of the Georgetown community. She is digging in her heels to support a decision that will disrupt the lives and education of more than 200 three-to-12-year-old local elementary-school children for the next two years.
Meetings to explain the change of position to the community have been canceled. No one understands why.
After years of planning and community involvement, the needed renovation of the only public elementary school in Georgetown, Hyde-Addison, had been approved, finalized, funded and scheduled. It would begin in the fall of 2017.
Where the Georgetown and other local students would go to school the next two years was obvious. Hardy Middle School, just seven blocks away, utilized at 50 percent of its normal capacity, would be available beginning in early summer. It was an easy move. Mayor Muriel Bowser told Council member Jack Evans that she supported the community’s choice. An Oct. 18 meeting was planned at which Georgetowners would inspect both Hardy and the final renovation plans.
Then it all fell apart. In early October, the deputy mayor announced that the little ones would be bussed for what could be one to two hours per day across heavy traffic to a rundown school in another part of the city. Apparently, there is to be no more discussion.
“I don’t know how Jenny made her decision to go against the parents’ common-sense solution,” said Evans at the Nov. 2 ANC meeting. Georgetowners urgently need to make the temporary move to Hardy School final, he urged.
“The only way Niles’s decision can be changed is if the District Council legislates it. But Jack Evans doesn’t have the votes,” Mayor Bowser reportedly told a Glover Park Citizens Association meeting Nov. 4. Evans has announced that a Citizens Association Chof Georgetown meeting on the issue is set for Nov. 29 at St. John’s Parish Hall — with Bowser invited to attend.
Why is Deputy Mayor Niles so adamant about going against the wishes of Georgetown’s parents?
The Georgetowner demands an explanation. We intend to investigate the how and why of this seemingly monolithic decision. We hope there isn’t something nefarious going on, but Niles’s stubbornness and unwillingness to respect the community’s clear will — and common sense — is curious indeed.