“Fix Murch Right”

“Dear PoPville,

Please support the 85-year-old Murch Elementary School’s effort to get its first proper renovation! Take a look at this video and press DCPS, DGS and Mayor Bowser to #FIX MURCH RIGHT.”

26 Comment

  • I’d be surprised if Murch is not well on its way to renovations by the next election for mayor. Hell hath no fury like an upper northwest dc tax base.

    • Nah, Bowser doesn’t care. That part of Ward 3 voted for her in the primary but then deserted her for Catania in the general election. She knows she’s not getting votes from that part of town anyway, so why should she care.

      But sure, here’s another $50 million for the laughably overbudget Ellington project.

      • That’s interesting. I certainly don’t think wealthier neighborhoods are entitled to better facilities than less wealthy neighborhoods, but I do think they are entitled to facilities of roughly equal quality. I mean the Ward 3 tax base provides a lot of money to this city. Why would they get worse?

  • Blithe

    I read something recently that suggested that multiple millions have already been allocated for the project — but that a few more million are needed to budget for the entire, extensive, renovation. That’s not the impression that I’d get from watching this compellingly cute kid video. If I can find the reference, I’ll come back and link to it.

  • Yawn. Murch is one of the better kept schools in the district, perhaps because of the clout of the wealthy parents with kids there.

    • Spoken like someone who obviously has never once stepped foot on Murch’s campus.

      Sure, a building…

      … that hasn’t been renovated ONCE in its 87-year-old history.
      … where kids get their lunches in a hallway and eat them in their classrooms.
      … where the 30-year-old Pre-K trailers are nicer than the actual building.
      … where the bathrooms resemble something out of a decrepit 1950s baseball stadium
      … that is forced to combine its auditorium and gym, resulting in a facility that serves neither gatherings or athletics.

      Yeah, that’s what I call “better kept.”

      Murch — one of the best-performing elementary schools in the DCPS despite its crumbling infrastraucture — has been getting its direly needed renovations kicked down the road for years now, mostly because the prospect of giving millions to a comparatively wealthy neighborhood is seen as a bad political move. But the building has gotten so decrepit that DCPS had to act. And now that it has started to act, the city is reneging on promises that it made, mostly because it gave open-ended accounts to previous school renovations, resulting in massive over-spending that lined the pockets of developers at taxpayer expense.

      Spare me your ill-informed “yawn.” Go back to DCUM where you belong.

      • I really hope that Murch is able to get it’s renovation dollars, and that the city actually comes through on it’s promises. At Powell, our renovation was supposed to be nearing completion, and they haven’t even started the part that was supposed to be started in September because for some reason the city is having a hard time granting permits for a city building. Also, we never had a cute video, but it did take some pretty hard campaigning on the part of parents in both Bowser and Catania’s offices to get our funding, but of course the mayor at the time didn’t care because he wasn’t running. Anyone who thinks funding for these things isn’t wrapped up in politics is delusional.

      • SilverSpringGal

        Just a note that I’ve never seen a public school with a separate auditorium and gym…but maybe I grew up in the wrong tax base. 😉

        • No, you just haven’t been inside many public schools. It is hardly rare.

        • And Murch has a playground with some fairly nifty and expensive materials, better than I see at the schools EOTP.

          Where did the money for that come from?

        • I was going to say the same thing before I saw your comment! All of the elementary and middle schools in my district as a child had a combined gym/auditorium. The stage doubled as the lunch room. My high school had separate gym/auditorium/lunch room facilities, but I never thought it was weird to have it combined.

        • Local1

          The gym will double as the auditorium in the agreed-upon October 2015 plan.

          Currently, the school population is too large to have a schoolwide assembly. They have to do it twice.

          Murch has never had a cafeteria. They relied on volunteer parents and neighbors to serve kids in the 50s and 60s in the gym.

  • Ashy Oldlady

    I know someone who teaches there, and the problems at that school go well beyond infrastructure. Though I suppose mismanagement is an all too common theme among DCPS.

  • You lost me at underground parking lot.
    We’re just trying to get consistent hot water at our EOTP elementary.

    • All parking in the plans are mandated by DC’s zoning laws.

      Hot water is also an issue at Murch, thanks to 87-year-old plumbing systems.

  • My son’s overenrolled EOTP school can’t get a dollar in the upcoming budgets, but Murch is fighting for an additional $20 million to ensure they keep underground parking? You’ll get sympathy from me about your dual-use auditorium/gym when we get a dang gym and our kids stop spending all their winter recesses literally running the halls. (Yes, they have them do laps.) Or when the building we go to stops injuring kids. (Yes, a kid got sent to the hospital for stitches when a sink fell on them and the shattered porcelain cut up their hands.) Or we have some semblance of ADA accessibility so that ALL the neighborhood kids can go to their neighborhood school. Or DDOT fixes the street that our school is on so it isn’t a traffic sewer for speeding Maryland commuters or MPD actually enforces a school zone for once in their life.

    Do I think Murch needs renovated? Absolutely. Should you have to be served lunch in the halls? Absolutely not. But I think the Murch parents come across as over-entitled, whiny, rich people through this whole process about “renovate Murch right” and complaining about their extra $20 million while the Orr Elementary (not my son’s school) renovation gets delayed yet again.

    Grow up and have a little concept of the city outside your upper NW bubble.

    • I mean, we’ll take your $68 million if you it upsets you so much and you no longer want it. Fight for the full $88 million in the next round.

      • Ah yes, there it is: All Murch parents are rich so their opinions don’t count and should be ignored. Figured that would come up at some point.

        I’m sorry your school is in such rough shape, but that’s neither here nor there WRT this topic. Murch has been fighting for a spot in the “next round” of school modernization for years now, going on a decade. We’ve been passed over countless times in favor of other schools’ renovations projects. We’ve seen other schools (most of them EOTP) turned into under-enrolled palaces. And when it finally was Murch’s turn, the city does a bait-and-switch on the budget.

        Grow up and have a little concept of the city outside your own situation.

        • How many more schools could get basic repairs for your extra $20 million? A lot. I’m not saying Murch shouldn’t get any money, but there are lots of schools that would kill for the $68,000,000 you got. Even when they considered giving our school full three stage reno (which they got one stage in and quit), they costed it at LESS THAN $10 million. I’m just saying that insisting on nothing less than a $90,000,000 renovation makes you seem completely out of touch.

          • Just to clarify, many in the Murch community are actually urging to get the costs down, while trying keeping most of the important elements of the agreed-upon design. It has come to light during this process that the DCPS process for modernizations is totally flawed, and is not a competitive process. While DCPS kept saying that there was enough budget for this design, they discovered late in the process that they did not, because the builders estimates came in after the design was agreed. Some of this is due to over inflated estimates. The community and others are urging the builder and others to come together to scrub the costs/budget for this project. Certainly no one wants a repeat of the Ellington school renovation cost fiasco. A project that costs taxpayers $78 million (with $6 mil of that attributable to swing space costs), but which does not meet the needs of the school for the next 50 years, does not seem to be money well spent.

  • I don’t know. I get that Murch has been waiting for the renovations for a very long time. But I guess I don’t get why those last $20 million are so crucial. I think Murch supporters are making a rather difficult argument. You got about 75% of the funding you wanted, and it sounds like most of what you want to do will be covered…I want to be sympathetic, but….

  • The project as proposed still looks like a quality renovation. What is the school not getting?

    http://dcps.dc.gov/node/1016992

    BTW – Murch is not the only school with strong performance passed over for renovation. Banneker is a top high school that serves students from the whole city and still has not gotten renovated. Almost all of the WOTP schools (Wilson, Deal, Janney, Lafayette have been renovated unfortunately some schools were renovated before Hearst & Murch not sure about Eaton. Min

  • Local1

    It is a quality renovation, and no schools in the city should have the squalid conditions described here.

    However,

    1. The issue is mismanagement. The community worked for over 2 years on a smart renovation. The city came in 4 months before groundbreaking to “rush in new design” which will only lead to the same overcrowded situation again. It was shortsighted planning and cost cutting that almost immediately made Janney’s first renovation obsolete.

    2. Murch has unique circumstances in that it is bordered by two major/busy roads, a weird patch of federal land (that is not to be used), does not sit on a lot of land like other schools and serves a lot of kids. The city delayed Murch’s renovation — by some accounts — for 20 years because of these barriers. Now the Murch community is frustrated and feels they were taken advantage of because of their patience.

    3. There really aren’t any other community playgrounds in the area. The underground parking was designed to save the small playground and basketball court that is available, and to allow trucks to enter and leave the property safely, without eating up community playground space.

    4. Again, the DCPS/DGS/Bowser came in with a one size fits all approach, lopped off a budget line without much thought (certainly not as much thought as city officials, and neighbors had put into it). This is the story of the parking lot….it’s not extravagance or elitism, it’s for safety and efficiency.

    5. . Murch has a long — and proud — history of teaching kids from all over the city. Murch continues to teach kids from across the city — not just Ward 3.

    The main point — to me, at least, is — if the mayor is going to crow about increased spending on education in her budget, she needs to be called out on her other development projects — like the soccer and basketball facilities. If she really means that “we have to get education right” like she said in her state of the district, Murch is a place where she can do it.

    For me, fund all the schools, libraries, and other public facilities in DC first.

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