Powell Elementary School is a growing, thriving DCPS school serving the Petworth neighborhood, with a vibrant and diverse student body. In the past five years:
- enrollment has doubled to 425
- truancy has dropped to 0% (12% in 2009)
- academic improvement has skyrocketed (Powell was one of the top 12 DCPS schools showing great improvement on the 2012 – 2013 DC CAS tests)
- the school has won the Fight for Children Award and been named the second-best bilingual school in the country by the Embassy of Spain
- undergone the first phase of its renovation plans in Summer 2013.
However, Powell is struggling to meet its priorities without full commitment from Mayor Vincent Gray and the City Council of the District of Columbia to fully fund its modernization and expansion plan as created by the Department of General Services (DGS). There are three remaining phases to the project, but only part of the $20 million has been budgeted. Powell is in a cluster of the city where the Mayor’s own Master Facilities Plan anticipates continued growth in school-age children in the coming years. Powell must be modernized and expanded to meet the needs of this growing community.
Currently, the school lacks:
- adequate classroom space – several teachers do not have a classroom space this year, and 4th and 5th grades are relegated to portable classroom space
- functioning, efficient HVAC systems throughout the school
- functioning windows
- professional development space for teachers
- adequate technology to provide blended learning opportunities and meet the needs of new standardized tests
- an ADA-compliant entrance at the front of the school
- sufficient green and play spaces for all students
- a separate gymnasium
- a kitchen to prepare fresh, healthful meals on site
- a cafeteria that can accommodate the growing student body; the school currently has to juggle five separate lunch periods!
In short, everything at Powell is going in the right direction except for the actual school facility. We ask that the Mayor and City Council use the upcoming budget reprogramming period to fully fund Powell’s modernization plans, at a total cost of about $20 million, as estimated by DGS. A piecemeal approach to school renovations and expansion will cost the taxpayers more money, cause more disruptions at the school, and delay the modern, functioning school facility that Powell’s students deserve.