Parents Develop Strategies to Keep Schools Open

Dorothy Rowley | 1/9/2013, 12:45 p.m.

Washington Teachers' Union President Nathan Saunders, 48, added that while the District has a right to protect itself financially from buildings that are under-enrolled, his organization is taking the side of the students and community.

"We're going to work hard to make sure that the rights of students, and their families, are taken into consideration," said Saunders. "We expect some deep thoughts and modifications. This issue is directly linked not only to under-enrolled buildings, but to charter schools that are opening up all over the city and competing with DCPS in some ways, unfairly."

But Henderson, who is expected along with Mayor Vincent C. Gray, 70, to announce her decision next week, has also made it clear that any alternative plan must outweigh her proposal.

DCPS currently boasts an enrollment of about 43,000 students, and Henderson said that before a round of closings in 2008, the system was losing 3,000 students each year.

"We have learned some significant lessons from 2008 . . . that will actually assist with the [proposed] closings . . . we're not going to waste money on this round of closings," said Henderson. "I [have] told my team we have to figure out a way to do these consolidations and increase enrollments, and we've provided information on demographic trends and other information that has led to these decisions."