For Immediate Release:
June 7, 2016
Contact: Keenan Austin
Grosso Proposes to Codify Objective School Modernization Approach
Washington, D.C.— Today, Committee on Education Chairperson David Grosso (I-At Large) introduced the “Planning Actively for Comprehensive Education Facilities Amendment Act of 2016,” also known as the PACE Facilities Amendment Act. The bill would codify the Committee’s objective approach to determining the prioritization of inclusion in the capital improvement plan for D.C. Public Schools, based on equity and data, not politics. It would also update the requirements for a Master Facilities Plan for public education facilities in D.C.
“For too many years, capital spending on our schools was prioritized based on politics not need,” said Grosso. “Some of our schools have not seen modernization over the past decade, while others enjoy second and third iterations of development. These inequities cannot exist if we are committed to each child receiving a quality education regardless of their zip code. This legislation promotes equity.”
In 2015, Councilmember Grosso started a new process for allocating capital funds for D.C. Public Schools modernization projects, when he found that 24 schools had still not been renovated despite over a billion dollars spent on modernization since 2008. This represented a failure of the government to fulfill its promise to improve the learning environment at all schools within five years. Instead, some school projects’ scope of work was expanded, increasing costs, and shortchanging other schools. Communities that successfully lobbied the Council and the Mayor got additional funds or had their schools prioritized--communities that were not as organized had their projects delayed.
The new process developed by Councilmember Grosso to remedy this inequity was refined in 2016. The PACE Facilities Amendment Act would codify this approach into law, under three guiding principles: 1) reflect equity focused planning, align investments with student demand, uphold the values of community centered schools, and build facilities to support quality educational programs; 2) exercise greater discipline in managing the scope and budget for school modernization projects; and 3) increase transparency in the capital funding process, including delineating general stabilization fund categories such as roof repairs, boiler repairs, ADA compliance, and electrical upgrades to specific schools.