Public school merger not yet a done deal

Two weeks after the city announced that two Foggy Bottom public schools would merge in an effort to save money, one of the principals told parents the plans are not yet concrete.

Francis-Stevens Education Campus, which serves pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, avoided closure after it was slated as a satellite campus for the School Without Walls, according to D.C. Public Schools documents. But the high school’s principal said he has yet to receive confirmation of the merge.

“I have a lot of promises – verbal promises – but I don’t have anything in writing yet,” principal Richard Trogisch said.

The public magnet high school, housed at the center of campus at 2130 G St., is about 110 students over capacity. If the merger goes through, Trogisch said he plans to assign students to take classes in the N Street building, now to be called the School Without Walls at Francis-Stevens, on alternating days.

The high school received 1,200 applications last year for 140 available spots in its freshman class. The additional space will bump up that number by 10 seats.

Trogisch said parents and faculty have had mixed reactions to the consolidation plan.

“It’s a challenge because the learning environment here is one that’s so excellent, and having to send a class or part of a class or some students to Francis-Stevens to reduce the pressure on this building, it’s caused some discussions to occur. Let’s put it that way,” he said.

Trogisch emailed parents this week outlining a plan if the merger goes through, stressing that he will maintain the high school’s quality. According to its website, it has a 100 percent graduation rate.

The School Without Walls could also boost the “academic rigor” of the lower grades, he said in the email to parents. It will align sixth, seventh and eighth grade courses with College Board standards.

All applicants, including those at Francis-Stevens, will still be required to take an entrance exam. Trogisch said he hopes about 30 percent of Francis-Stevens eighth-graders – about 15 students – will be able to pass the test. Only about one or two Francis-Stevens students have attended the School Without Walls after graduation each year in the past.

Francis-Stevens students will only attend classes in their current building and will continue to wear uniforms, distinguishing them from the high school students who will flow into their vacant classrooms.

Former University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg and Dean of the Graduate School of Education and Human Development Michael Feuer will sit on a task force on the schools’ long-term plans.

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