District of Columbia City Councilman Marion Barry, D-Ward 8, said recent emergency legislation will bring parity to the allocation of school building funding that was missing under former Mayor Adrian Fenty and former D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee.

In a press release, Barry said he and his staff have attended dozens of meetings, toured several school facilities, and reviewed various drafts of proposals and financial data relating to the school rehabbing plans of the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization (OPEFM). That review, he said revealed several inequities. For example, while schools located in Ward 3 have been renovated, along with brand new playgrounds, at a cost of $227 million; funding had been removed from schools located east of the river to support other schools across the District.

Specifically, he added, last summer over $3 million was taken from the budgets of four of five Wards 7 and 8 schools undergoing Phase I modernizations. Additionally, Ballou and Anacostia senior high schools were slated to receive approximately $60 million each in phased renovations unlike their counterparts, Wilson, H.D. Woodson and Eastern high schools, which received approximately $120 million each.

After working with OPEFM and with the support of Mayor Vincent Gray and Council Chairman Kwame Brown, Barry said he was able to reverse some of the former administration’s adverse decisions. “I am glad that today we were able to restore some equity for the students and parents in Ward 8. I consider this a victory for Ward 8. When educational improvements are made to school facilities this benefits the entire community,” Barry stated.

The councilmember said he was able to achieve about 95 percent of what he advocated for within this legislation. The emergency legislation authorizes OPEFM to award more than $57 million in funding to Ward 8 projects, including $22.4 million for Phase II modernization at Anacostia Senior High and $16 million for the full modernization of Turner Elementary School.

Such improvements will make Ward 8 schools a welcome option for parents in the area, some of whom send their children to schools in other wards, Barry added.
“I am more than aware that many of these schools have several Ward 7 and 8 students attending the schools through the out-of-boundary lottery,” he said.

“However, if we continue to make the necessary and adequate improvements to the learning environments of the children East of the River there will be less of need for parents to send their children across the city to schools that have high quality academic and educational facilities.”