Outgoing President Paul Wood opened the meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance and read the June 2012 Treasurer’s Report, which was submitted for audit. The minutes of the May meeting were approved without amendment. There were three speakers:
Timothy Thomas, ANC 5A-08
Commissioner Tim Thomas invited Michigan Park residents to the monthly meeting of ANC 5A, scheduled for June 27th at the HSC Pediatric Center on Bunker Hill Road NE. Guest speakers to include: Councilmember Michael Brown, and Mr. Wilson, a DCPS representative, who will discuss the renovation of Bunker Hill School, which is scheduled to commence on June 16th with completion by mid-August.
The Phase 1 renovation of Bunker Hill School will include: new furniture; new and upgraded electrical; exterior doors; and central AC in specific sections of the building. Improvements scheduled for Phase 2 will include a new parking lot and playground; HVAC; and a new cafeteria.
Ralph Bucksell noted that he had spoken with the principal about the traffic congestion that occurs during drop-off/pick-up, including a recommendation that the buses be relocated to Taylor Street as a means of reducing congestion on 14th Street NE. Commissioner Thomas responded that there has been discussion about converting 14th Street NE into one-way in the morning and afternoon. He recognized the challenges of neighborhood parking. He also noted that the contracts for both the Principal and the Assistant Principal were not renewed by DCPS.
Mark Jones, Ward 5 School Board Representative
Mr. Jones reiterated that staffing at Bunker Hill School will be changing, and confirmed that the contracts for the Principal and Assistant Principal as well as several teachers were not renewed. He noted that the LSRT and Bunker Hill School PTA would be working with the DCPS Chancellor to identify a new Principal for this coming school year. In response to a question about why their contracts were not renewed, Mr. Jones responded that it was due to performance.
When the Bunker Hill School was combined with Brookland Elementary School in 2008, test scores declined. Mr. Jones attributed the declines to the “loss of the best parents” as well as the increase in out-of-boundary students. The scheduled return of Brookland students—which was scheduled to coincide with renovation/ redevelopment of that campus—has obviously not occurred.
In response to a question about the long-term plan for Bunker Hill School—which was designated historic this year by the District—Mr. Jones discussed the middle school initiative planned by DCPS for Ward 5. This initiative includes three middle schools: in a renovated Annex to McKinley Tech; one to be located at the Brown Education Campus on Maryland Avenue and 21st St. NE; and the third to be located in a new building to replace the Brookland Elementary School on Michigan Avenue.
Mr. Jones believes that competition within DCPS is healthy, and he supports the charter schools citywide. He noted, however, that DCPS needs to “level the playing field” by supporting renovated and new DCPS facilities citywide.
Mr. Jones also noted that the School Board will be voting to change graduation requirements, including the addition of a senior thesis; raising the drop-out age from 16 to 19; and, identifying minimum grade-point averages for student athletes.
Ms. Green, a representative of At-Large Councilmember Orange’s office, noted that the Councilmember has introduced legislation to provide an income-tax exemption for DCPS teachers who are residents of DC. The legislation has been assigned to the Finance Committee for review.
Ralph Bucksell raised the issue of ongoing problems associated with students of the Luke Seymour Academy located on Monroe Street NE in Brookland. Some discussion ensued about that facility, its students and staff turnover.
When asked how MPCA might assist, Mr. Jones requested that MPCA draft a letter to DCPS to address the deteriorating conditions and functional/physical obsolescence of the Brookland Elementary School campus. Mr. Jones stated that he would find out if the letter is to be addressed to DCPS or Real Estate Services. The letter will be prepared by the new officers of MPCA.
Josh Burch/Michigan Park Resident & DC Statehood Committee Rep
Mr. Burch, a resident of 13th Street NE in Michigan Park, is active in the DC Statehood Committee. He discussed the group’s ongoing activities, and noted that the committee and the Brookland Civic Association are sponsoring a community picnic, with children’s activities, on June 23rd.
The group is researching the overall fiscal impacts associated with the District becoming the 51st state. It is not fully known whether the District can afford to become a state, as the latest study was prepared by Alice Rivlin, an economist with the Brookings Institution, in 2007. She has given numerous testimony on the potential fiscal impacts, including the financial advantages created by the imposition of a commuter tax (which is prohibited by Congress), which was estimated to generate $2.26 billion per year (2007 $s).
One of the drawbacks to statehood was the 1997 decision by Congress that returned control of the city’s courts and prison systems as well as 70% of Medicaid payments to the Federal government. If DC were to become a state, this would result in the District absorbing those systems and concomitant costs—at an estimated cost of $1 billion per year. Moreover, it is not know whether Congress would keep—or return—control of several other programs, such as the city’s Tuition Assistance Program that allows DC students to attend state colleges anywhere in the U.S. at in-state tuition rates.
Mr. Burch shared his group’s ongoing efforts, which includes outreach to churches and faith-based community groups as well as lobbying before Congress. To-date, the group has spoken with staff in 30 Congressional offices.
Mr. Burch shared the analysis prepared by Mr. Natwar Ghandi, the District’s CFO, who has stated that revenues generated by a commuter tax of $2.26 billion per year would allow the District to lower its overall income tax rates, therefore generating additional population growth and net new revenues in the form of income and sales taxes from those new residents.
The DC Statehood Committee’s proposed Statehood Bill creates a “National Capital Service Area” that would encompass the Federal core/enclave around the National Mall, White House and monuments. The remainder of the city would become the State of New Columbia.
Additional information can be obtained from the group’s website: www.the51st.org
General discussion ensued about the goals/objectives and projects for MPCA over the next year, including the formation of committees organized around specific projects. Project ideas include: continued park improvements; tree planting; park naming rights; and transportation-related, to include traffic calming/speed controls and infrastructure (new sidewalks, etc.).
The status of construction of MPCA’s website was also discussed, including finding another source to assist the Association in creating a website.
Based on recommendations of the Nominations Committee, MPCA’s new officers for the coming year include:
W. Thomas (Tom) Lavash, President
Ralph Bucksell, 1st Vice-President
Roxanne Carter, 2nd Vice-President
Beulah Sutherland, Treasurer
James Watkins, Herald
Don Looney, Financial Secretary
The post of Secretary has not yet been filled.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:55 pm. The next scheduled monthly meeting of the Michigan Park Citizens Association will take place on Tuesday, October 2, 2012, at 7:15 pm, at Bunker Hill School.