My update this week reports on our school readiness tours at Ward 4 DCPS schools, offers free Nationals tickets for Ward 4 seniors and their loved ones, details a progress update on Takoma pool, shares the draft design for the Georgia Avenue Bus Project, and shares useful resources and neighborhood events — including Emery Heights Community Day. Take a look!
Readiness Tours to Support Our Ward 4 Schools
Our students, teachers, and school staff deserve safe, comfortable learning environments. Like last year, I’m dedicating a full week in August to school readiness tours at all of our Ward 4 DCPS schools. During these tours, my team and I join our school leaders and maintenance staff with teams from DCPS and DGS to follow up on incomplete work orders, escalate important repairs, and coordinate contingency plans when necessary at each school. I pair these summer tours with year-round oversight through Council hearings, follow-up with agencies, working to accelerate school modernizations, securing swing spaces for our schools, temporary and permanent legislation, and staying in touch with school leaders, teachers, and parents. I know that we shouldn’t need to have these readiness tours at all, and that having them won’t fix every issue, but I also know that these visits make a difference so I include them as part of our efforts.
Readiness tours also allow me to identify the ways in which DC’s processes for getting things fixed in our schools are breaking down. I want to share some of those process issues with you. First, we need to take a closer look at the quality of work from our modernization contractors. We spend a lot of money to build beautiful new facilities, but then several of them (Powell Elementary and Roosevelt High School, for example) have significant HVAC and drainage issues within a few years of reopening. DGS contracts with maintenance staff to provide temporary patchwork fixes, but ultimately we’ll probably need capital investment to re-do some major building systems to make things work more consistently. That’s expensive and does not happen overnight.
Secondly, the way DGS and DCPS manage work orders also deserves a closer look. Councilmember Robert White and the Committee on Government Operations and Facilities has already pushed for a new DCPS HVAC dashboard, and improvements will continue to be made for transparency on this front. We should also consider ways to improve communication between school-level staff and DGS contractors. These contractors typically share information about a problem via Salesforce. We heard too often about work orders that are closed without the underlying issue being fixed, and sometimes without notification to the school. This was an issue at nearly every stop – miscommunication about the progress of specific work orders.
We should also consider our usage of consolidated maintenance contractors (CMCs), which in Ward 4 operate at Roosevelt HS and Coolidge HS. The CMCs role is to provide on-site maintenance at a higher level of expertise than would normally be provided by a building engineer or a foreman. Unfortunately, in practice, we saw a lot of confusion and delays associated with work orders at these schools because CMCs and DGS fight over who’s responsible for what and accountability isn’t as clear. For example, the bathrooms at Coolidge stadium have been closed for years because the pipes froze and neither DGS nor the CMC have taken responsibility for fixing them.
I’m grateful that our office worked together with Chairman Mendelson and Councilmember White on the “Back-to-School Safety Emergency Act” last month. Several Ward 4 schools have interior and exterior doors that don’t lock properly. Some schools lack functional alarm systems or PA systems that could help communicate an ongoing emergency. DCPS and DGS are working on a complete audit of building security systems, and we will have a confidential briefing on their progress in a few weeks. My team will work with DCPS and DGS to ensure interim mitigation measures are in place for anything that absolutely cannot be fixed before students return to school on August 29.
We also need to look at how DCPS plans and prioritizes its small capital project budget. We have long-standing issues that require a capital solution, but it’s unclear where they are in the queue of other projects to get fixed. I was proud to fight for funding in last year’s budget for covered walkways at Brightwood Elementary – a project that’s been needed for years. I would like more transparency into the current year plans, the upcoming year, and how DCPS develops plans for the future. If it is a matter of more investment in small capital projects, so be it. This also comes back to ensuring quality work on the front end of our modernizations; systems should not be completely broken with 5-6 years of modernization (ex. the track at Lafayette Elementary).
Finally, we are not investing enough in preventive maintenance. We should be more proactive in ensuring our building systems (roofs and HVAC systems, in particular) are in regular working order before they break down. It’s our children and educators who are stuck when things break, and we have to call out an expensive emergency patch. Further – I’m disappointed that we don’t have a regular interior painting or marquee budget. These things may not be essential to building operations, but when the paint is spotty or the marquee is broken, it sends the wrong message to our families about what we care about as a city. It took months of advocacy to get the MacFarland Middle School marquee sign restored to its original condition. We should budget for these things so that our schools remain beautiful and inviting spaces for learning!
Free Tickets for Senior Day at Nationals Park
I’m excited to share that my office is distributing free tickets to Ward 4 senior citizens, their families, and friends for Senior Day at Nationals Park for the Washington Nationals game against the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday, August 17 at 1:05pm. If you’re a senior citizen who lives in Ward 4, please claim your tickets by filling out this form (bit.ly/natsward4) and pick up your tickets either on Tuesday, August 16 between 10am-12pm at La Coop Coffee Shop (5505 1st St NW) — or by visiting Hattie Holmes Senior Wellness Center (324 Kennedy St NW) or Fort Stevens Senior Center (1327 Van Buren St NW) during their respective business hours starting Monday, August 15. Please call my office at 202-724-8052 with any questions or if you need help registering. Enjoy the game!
Latest Update on the Pool at Takoma Aquatic Center
Our community has waited far too long for Takoma Aquatic Center to reopen after necessary roof and HVAC issues forced it to close in May 2021. I want to update neighbors that today the main pool passed its inspection and was cleared to reopen, although the kiddie pool needs to be reinspected before it can get the green light too. The next step is for DCRA to issue a license to the pool and for DPR to finalize staffing. The main floor has a new, fully replastered floor that was not originally in the scope of work for this project. We now expect the pool to reopen in early September, with an official opening date expected to be announced very soon.
Information on $10,000-$14,000 Payments for Early Childhood Educators
Remember when I co-led the Council in passing the Homes and Hearts budget amendment to provide early childhood educators in DC up to a $14,000 raise? Applications will open up soon, and there are two information sessions scheduled on Saturday, August 13 at 10am and Tuesday, August 23 at 6pm. Please help spread the word to childcare workers in our community. You can sign up for either session or learn more about the application process on OSSE’s dedicated website.
Expanded Eligibility and Walk-Up Clinics for the Monkeypox Vaccine
Today, DC Health announced expanded eligibility for the Monkeypox vaccine. Eligible residents now include all DC residents who have had multiple sexual partners in the past two weeks (including those currently considered highest risk), all sex workers, and all staff at establishments where sexual activity occurs. In addition to pre-registering for an appointment, eligible DC residents can receive the Monkeypox vaccine through weekly walk-up clinics, including one in Ward 4 at 7530 Georgia Ave NW. Starting today, eligible residents can walk up to these clinics on every Friday from 12pm-8pm (or until supplies run out) to get their shot. Eligible residents will also need to bring proof of DC residency to access these walk-up clinics. Please read this additional information from DC Health before visiting one of the walk-up sites. Each site receives 300 doses per Friday.
DPR Fall Program Registration Starts on Monday at Noon
At 12pm on Monday, August 15, registration will begin for DPR fall programs. DPR is offering programs for people of all ages, fitness levels, or interests! Check out the full list of fall programs on DPR’s website. For some popular programs, DPR will again utilize a digital “waiting room” to help ensure a smoother registration process. The system is designed to support the high volume of users and allow for an orderly and fair process. Make sure to set your clocks and timers to be ready to go for noon! In the future, we need a more equitable registration process that makes it easier for children of all socioeconomic backgrounds to access these great programs.
Get Your Child Caught Up on Their Shots in Ward 4
If your child still needs to catch up on their required immunizations before the start of school, bring them to these free clinics that are open to all students and do not require insurance or proof of citizenship. You can pre-register for an appointment at this link, or walk-up if there are still appointments available. Children can also catch up on their shots through their primary medical provider, fast-track vaccination-only clinics, or school-based health centers.
- Thursday, August 25 at 10am-3pm: Sela PCS (6015 Chillum Pl NE)
- Wednesday, August 31 at 10am-3pm: DC International School (1400 Main Dr NW)
- Thursday, September 15 at 10am-3pm: Creative Minds PCS (3700 North Capitol NW)
- Saturday, September 24 from 10am-3:30pm: Coolidge and Ida B Wells (6315 5th St NW) with pre-registration required
Resolving Parking Tickets Received Due to CitiOpen
During the CitiOpen Tennis Tournament in Ward 4, parking was restricted in nearby neighborhoods to prevent attendees from flooding nearby streets. While most neighbors received parking passes so they can continue parking on their block, some did not get theirs or did not get enough – and Fourth District Station eventually ran out of additional passes to distribute. The Mayor’s Office has been coordinating neighborhood logistics for the tournament. If you’re a neighbor who inadvertently received a parking ticket due to CitiOpen, add the ticket information to this Google form so the Ward 4 MOCRs can have it removed.
Draft Concepts Unveiled for Georgia Avenue Bus Priority Project
This week DDOT held an open house and unveiled draft concept designs for the Georgia Avenue Bus Project, which aims to improve bus operations and traffic safety along Georgia Avenue from Barry Place in Ward 1 all the way up to Kansas Avenue. Georgia Avenue is a critical public transit corridor since it hosts the 70 and 79 bus, which are the first and fifth most popular MetroBuses respectively and serve more than 17,000 riders every day! The concept designs feature dedicated bus lanes to reduce congestion delay, bulb-outs to allow buses to board from the travel lane and provide more space for passengers to wait, Vision Zero improvements, and more. Check out the draft design and the draft design roll plot, and share your feedback by emailing email@example.com, calling 202-671-2376, or attending a future meeting.
Special Celebrations and Community Office Hours at Uptown Farmers Market
On Saturday, August 13 from 9am-1pm FRESHFARM will host special celebrations at Uptown Farmers Market (14th & Kennedy NW) to mark the end of National Farmers Market Week! Festivities will include live jazz music, veggie activities and rainbow eye-spy for kids, fresh summer melon samples, Market Bingo with prizes, and Councilmember community office hours with me and my team from 10am-12pm. See you there!
Nineteenth Street Baptist Church School Supply Giveaway
On Saturday, August 13 from 10am-1pm (or while supplies last) the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church (4606 16th St NW) will host a school supply giveaway for community members. Donations can be dropped off at the church through August 8. Thank you to the Usher Board for their efforts organizing this event.
Summer Saturdays at the Garden at 516 Kennedy Street NW
On Saturday, August 13 at 10am-12pm City Blossoms invites neighbors to join Summer in their Studio Garden at 516 Kennedy Street NW for Summer Saturdays. Bring your family, friend, or just yourself to explore the garden and enjoy a community gathering space with kid-friendly activities. Anyone who lends a hand is welcome to take home some garden goodies as part of the “you help, you harvest” policy.
Friends of Emery Present Emery Heights Community Day
On Saturday, August 13 from 12pm-8pm the Friends of Emery will host Emery Heights Community Day at Emery Heights Community Center (5701 Georgia Ave NW). Bring a tent, lawn chairs, and positive attitudes for a day of fun, family, and community with live music and DJs, live wrestling, bounce houses, a video game truck, and food and drinks! RSVP at this link.
DPR Outdoor Movie Nights at Upshur Recreation Center
On Tuesday, August 16 at 7pm DPR Roving Leaders will host their final outdoor movie screening in Ward 4 for the summer at Upshur Recreation Center (4300 Arkansas Ave NW). Please keep in mind that outdoor movie nights are subject to cancellation due to weather.
Summer in the Parks Event at Fort Slocum
On Wednesday, August 17 from 6pm-8pm the National Park Service and the Rock Creek Conservancy will host a free, family-friendly event at Fort Slocum to promote community togetherness, enjoying our public lands, and recreating responsibly. Come out for music from DJ Lance Reynolds and fun-for-all-ages games and activities!
Nationals Senior Day with Free Tickets for Ward 4 Seniors
On Wednesday, August 17 at 1pm the Washington Nationals will host a Senior Day during their game against the Chicago Cubs. If you’re a senior who lives in Ward 4, you can get free tickets for yourself, your family, and friends from my office by completing this form (bit.ly/natsward4) and picking up the tickets on Tuesday, August 16 between 10am-12pm at La Coop Coffee Shop (5505 1st St NW) — or from Hattie Holmes Senior Wellness Center (324 Kennedy St NW) or Fort Stevens Senior Center (1327 Van Buren St NW) during their respective business hours starting Monday, August 15. Please call my office at 202-724-8052 with any questions or if you need help registering.
DC Public Library Go Go Unit and Games on Kennedy Street
On Thursday, August 18 from 3pm-6pm the DC Public Library’s Go-Go mobile unit will be on the 600 block of Kennedy Street NW, joined by Uptown Main Street and the librarian from Shepherd Park/Juanita E. Thornton Library. There will be storytelling at 3:30pm, a bilingual dance class at 5:15pm, lawn games, books to check out, library cards, bubbles, and chalk!
Cool “Disco” Dan Day at the 14th Street Graffiti Museum
On Friday, August 19 from 4pm-10pm the 14th Street Graffiti Museum (14th & Crittenden NW) will host Cool “Disco” Dan Day to honor the life and legacy of Danny Hogg. It will include DC music from 4pm-8pm, a candle lighting at 8:15pm, and a live panel with DC legends Lisa of the World and muralist Miss Chelove at 8:30pm.
Councilmember Community Office Hours at Petworth Community Market
On Saturday, August 20 from 10am-12pm my team and I will be at Petworth Community Market (9th & Upshur) for community office hours. Come by to get help with constituent issues, share insights on legislation, or talk about how we can improve our community.
SOUL (Sheridan Street on Urban Love) Block Party
On Saturday, August 20 at 12pm-9:30pm neighbors on the 600 block of Sheridan Street NW (and nearby neighbors) will host their annual SOUL Block Party with several bands performing, health screenings, and kids activities. Bring your lawn chair for a day of family-friendly fun with neighbors.
Bilingual Concert for Children at Petworth Library: 123 Andrés
On Saturday, August 20 at 2pm-3pm Petworth Library will host a bilingual concert with Grammy Award-winning children’s performers 123 Andrés y Cristina. Enjoy this bilingual Spanish and English concert as part of the library’s special summer programming. Andrés and Christina invite the audience to use their imaginations, co-create stories and songs with them, and act out the stories created.
Summer in the Parks Event at Fort Slocum
On Wednesday, August 24 from 6pm-8pm the National Park Service and the Rock Creek Conservancy will host a free, family-friendly event at Fort Slocum to promote community togetherness, enjoying our public lands, and recreating responsibly. Come out for music from DJ Lance Reynolds and fun-for-all-ages games and activities!
Six Months Moratorium to Stop the Killings Cookout/Amateur Boxing Match at Upshur
On Saturday, August 27 from 1pm-8:30pm CEASE FIRE will host the annual Six Months Moratorium to Stop the Killings Cookout/Amateur Boxing Match at Upshur Rec Center (4300 Arkansas Ave NW). Come out for a day full of community, love, and respect with plenty of free food, health screenings, and entertainment. This event happens annually to promote unity and peace in our community. RSVP on Facebook!
And take some time to visit your local Ward 4 Farmers Market:
- Uptown Farmers Market at 5501 Colorado Ave NW on Saturdays from 9am-1pm
- Chevy Chase Farmers Market at Lafayette Elementary on Saturdays from 9am-1pm
- Petworth Community Market at 9th & Upshur NW on Saturdays from 9am-1pm
- Takoma Park Farmers Market at 6931 Laurel Ave on Sundays from 10am-2pm
- The Parks at Walter Reed Farmers Market at 6310 Cameron Drive NW on Sundays from 9am-1pm
Petworth News: Friends of Emery are hosting a Community Day on Saturday, August 13
DC Courts: Free childcare for jurors and those who have in-person business with the Courts
Washington Post: DC Wins $4 Million Judgment Against ‘Ghost Gun’ Parts Maker
DCist: DC Attorney General Announces Grants To Support Migrants Bused From Texas, Arizona
Last Ward 4 Dispatch: Gun Violence, ANC Vacancies, Monkeypox Vaccines, and New Farmers Market
To close out this update, I want to thank the dedicated principals, assistant principles, staff, school foremen, and teachers working hard to prepare our schools to welcome back students in a couple of weeks. Ward 4 is lucky to have so many incredible educators who are willing to go the extra mile to give our students the learning environments they deserve. I’m also grateful for the DGS and DCPS teams that joined us on our tours and are working late hours this summer to overcome barriers and make the needed repairs. I look forward to working closely with everyone to address the issues we saw during our school readiness tours this week.
Have a great weekend, Ward 4!
Yours in Service,