On the tail of a recent announcement that Washington D.C. would decommission up to two dozen public schools, columnist Roger K. Lewis suggests that the closings can be a good thing, and that they open the door for adaptive reuse.
"Last week Washington D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and D.C. School Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee proposed closing two dozen D.C. public schools because of declining enrollments and to free up resources. Fenty and Rhee took heat from D.C. Council members, who felt insufficiently consulted, and from residents who questioned the need to close schools in their neighborhoods."
"Shutting down underused schools makes economic and academic sense, but the heat might have been less intense if the mayor and chancellor had suggested how each property could be redeveloped to benefit its community and the District as a whole."
"In fact, decommissioning such schools offers neighborhoods great revitalization opportunities."
"Depending on location and accessibility, school properties can be transformed to meet a variety of needs: affordable housing, retail, office space, health-care facilities, day-care centers, community recreation and parks. Of course, charter schools can join the mix."