(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, at the fully modernized Marie Reed Elementary School, Mayor Bowser celebrated the start of the 2017-2018 traditional school year. Prior to kickoff events, the Mayor and other Administration officials were at the intersection of Florida Avenue and 18th Street, NW reminding motorists to slow down and use caution while school is in session. At Marie Reed, a representative from AAA Mid-Atlantic spoke about AAA’s work with safety patrols as well as steps drivers can take to help keep students safe. Mayor Bowser was joined at the kickoff by Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles, DC Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor Antwan Wilson, Director of the Department of General Services Greer Gillis, Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation Keith Anderson, and Principal of Marie Reed Elementary School Katie Lundgren.
“Every school day is a new opportunity for students to learn and grow – to build on what they learned the day before and to prepare for the next day,” said Mayor Bowser. “Throughout the year, our educators put a tremendous amount of effort into ensuring that every day counts, but that effort only benefits the students who are in class and ready to learn. This year, we are doubling down on ensuring that all our families and students are connected to the resources they need to make it to school every day, on time.”
Marie Reed Elementary School is a diverse dual-language school in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Ward 1. The school shares space with several community partners, housing a Department of Parks and Recreation pool and locker rooms, Community of Hope dental suites and clinic, and a United Planning Organization child care center. The original 152,000 square-foot building was constructed in 1977 and modernization of the facility began in June 2016. The full modernization included a new addition on the west side of the building that includes separate entrances for shared spaces. With green roofing, water efficient fixtures, community and teaching gardens, and other energy efficient features, the modernized building is designed and constructed to attain LEED Gold for Schools Certification.
“What we see happening here at Marie Reed is representative of our citywide commitment to getting our students to school every single day,” said Deputy Mayor Niles. “My office is working with other agencies and community partners to empower our families to overcome challenges to attendance including health and access to child care and after school programming. Marie Reed is in a position to provide all of those supports to our students and families under one roof.”
At the kickoff, the Mayor continued to highlight her Administration’s Every Day Counts! effort, a citywide campaign to increase attendance at the District’s public schools. More than 18,000 students – almost one in four – in the District of Columbia are chronically absent, meaning they miss 10 percent or more of all school days. By sixth grade, missing 10 percent of the school year is strongly linked to dropping out of high school. Together, Mayor Bowser and the Every Day Counts! Task Force, spearheaded by the Deputy Mayor for Education, will increase coordination across public agencies and stakeholders, invest in data-driven strategies to increase attendance rates, and reward students and schools that improve attendance throughout the school year. Residents can learn more at attendance.dc.gov.
“I’m thrilled that our students are already off to a strong start this school year. DCPS’ 2017 PARCC scores show that students made tremendous progress,” said Chancellor Wilson. “As we turn to this upcoming school year, we’re even more focused on ensuring each and every one of our students has the necessary supports they need to succeed. From embracing social emotional learning and developing our talented educators to engaging families, we know we have a great school year ahead of us to continue this trend of improvement.”
The start of the traditional school year comes one week after Mayor Bowser and the Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) announced a tentative agreement on a new contract that will significantly increase compensation for DCPS teachers. Last week, the Mayor also announced that Washington, DC’s 2017 statewide results on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment showed gains across almost all grade levels and subject areas for the second year in a row.
After ten years of education reform in Washington, DC, accelerating school reform continues to be a top priority for Mayor Bowser. In her Fiscal Year 2018 Budget, Mayor Bowser invested $1.74 billion in public education, an increase of $121 million over last year’s budget and the largest investment in public education in the city’s history. In addition, the proposed teachers’ contract will provide an additional $110.5 million to DCPS and an additional $92.6 million to public charter schools from FY2017 to FY2021.
Later today, the Mayor will be at the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and Albemarle Street, NW near Janney Elementary School, Alice Deal Middle School, and Woodrow Wilson High School as part of the Administration’s Slow Down campaign.