Text of Mayor Gray's 2012 'State of the District' Address
2/8/2012, 5:36 p.m.
According to key indicators, D.C. Public Schools are showing success in improving educational opportunity and achievement. The fact is, more and more parents are finding good reason to have confidence in District schools. And for the first time in decades, enrollment in D.C. Public Schools is stabilizing. And we will continue to implement our comprehensive school-modernization plan, rebuilding or renovating our schools.
Over the last year I personally cut ribbons to open a new H.D. Woodson High School; a renovated Langley School; modernized and expanded facilities at Woodrow Wilson High School, Anacostia High School and Janney Elementary; and a restored Takoma Education Campus, where we invested $25 million unexpectedly in the aftermath of a devastating fire in December of 2010. We have also begun the modernization of Cardozo High School and broken ground on a new Dunbar High School. A new Ballou Senior High School and many others will soon follow. Our campaign to modernize every public school not only must continue, but we will find ways to accelerate it. Last summer, our reformed Summer Youth Employment Program engaged over 14,000 youth, teaching them the culture and value of an honest day's work for an honest day's pay.
After years of dramatic runaway spending, we're proud that last year's program was very successful in serving our youth and came in several million dollars under budget. Among the basic priorities that all members of any community demand of their government is the expectation that their home, their neighborhood, and the city's streets are safe.
In 2011, the District had our lowest number of homicides in nearly 50 years. Although last year's 108 murders were still 108 too many, this was 18 percent lower than the year before. And the Metropolitan Police Department posted an astonishing 95 percent homicide-closure rate - compared to the national average of just 56 percent. My administration re-opened our Police Academy, and the number of sworn officers in the Metropolitan Police Department is now increasing.
Our target is to hire and train 300 new officers to grow our police force this year. The Fire and Emergency Medical Services Academy is now also up and running again to train new recruits, all of whom are District residents. And response time for EMS calls is improving as a part of our commitment to creating a more customer-friendly government.
Also, I signed an executive order mandating that District law-enforcement officials not serve as agents for federal immigration law enforcement, thereby helping to build trust with our immigrant community and facilitating cooperation with the police. We must be One City - and that overarching ambition must include Washington's immigrant community.
And we continue to make strides to improve the health of our residents - especially those living with HIV/AIDS. To combat this epidemic - which continues to take a toll on the city, especially among African Americans, Latinos and among members of our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities - I appointed a commission of leaders from all across the city to guide our policies and to bring the community together in our struggle against the virus.