July 12, 2017
Dear Eaton Parents and Families,
Just a few weeks ago, the Council held its final vote on the District’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year. As many of you may know, as part of the final budget, I was successful in moving funding for the modernization of Eaton Elementary forward, so that the modernization process will begin in the fall of 2017, six years earlier than planned. Today, I would like to share some background with you and your family about why I sought to move up this funding, and lay out what the modernization process will look like.
In March 2016, DCPS published a document that ranked the 18 DCPS schools yet to be modernized in order of perceived need. On that list, Eaton was ranked thirteenth. Consequently, while Mayor Bowser’s proposed 2018 budget set aside funds for Eaton’s modernization, that funding wasn’t set to be allocated until 2023. With its growing enrollment, interior and outdoor spaces requiring renovation, and inadequate parking, Eaton simply cannot wait six years to be modernized. With these needs in mind, I took action to move up the funding for Eaton’s modernization project from 2023 to this fall.
I want to clarify that moving this funding forward does not cut short the community’s opportunity to weigh in on how Eaton should be modernized. During the summer and fall, DCPS will begin to assemble a School Improvement Team (SIT) that will develop the modernization plan for Eaton. This SIT will be made up of parents, students, teachers and school staff, and government representatives from DCPS and the Department of General Services (DGS). Chaired by a member of the school community, the SIT will meet directly with the school community over the next year to gather information on school needs and other recommendations to inform the final plan for Eaton’s modernization.
Importantly, moving up Eaton’s modernization to this fall will allow construction at the school to run parallel to construction of the short-term family housing planned for Idaho Avenue. In fact, if these two projects follow their projected timelines, both the school modernization and construction of the family housing site should be completed in relatively the same time frame. The SIT will incorporate anticipated enrollment increases at Eaton from new families with school-age children – both those in short-term family housing and others moving to the neighborhood – into its final plans for Eaton’s modernization. This plan may include securing additional classroom space, setting aside spaces tailored for student services, and other appropriate measures. In short, moving up Eaton’s modernization will mean the school can act to address many of the enrollment-related changes it is facing now, or may face in the immediate future.
Finally, a number of parents have reached out to me about the location of swing space for Eaton students during the modernization. In a 2016 document, DCPS listed Meyer School as a potential swing space for Eaton. However, DCPS has confirmed with me that Meyer was a placeholder swing space location, and that they have not yet made a decision regarding Eaton’s swing space. In fact, one of the tasks put to Eaton’s SIT will be determining a swing space location that works best for Eaton families. It is not clear yet whether Eaton will even need to swing off-site (DCPS and DGS have been successful in keeping students on-site for other school modernizations). Should off-site swing space be necessary, I will be working closely with the SIT, DCPS, and DGS to ensure that the selected swing space location makes sense for Eaton families. As I noted earlier, the Eaton community will have opportunity to discuss potential swing space locations with the SIT, and I encourage everyone to provide feedback to the SIT on the effect of different options on students, families, and the community.
I’m looking forward to working with everyone as plans for the modernization of Eaton unfold over the next year. Once Eaton has been modernized, your children will have access to a state-of-the-art school facility that has been updated to best serve the needs of your children and the next generation of Eaton students. As this project moves along, I encourage all families to track the modernization process on the DGS website at https://tinyurl.com/eatones – Eaton will be added to this portal later this summer. I also hope that you will reach out to me with any questions, recommendations, or concerns you may have about this project. You can reach my office at (202) 724-8062.
An electronic version of the letter may be found here: John Eaton Modernization Information