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Posts from March 2013


Weekend links: While there's time

Photo by Old Shoe Woman on Flickr.
MD Senate funds transportation: The transportation funding bill passed the Maryland Senate and now goes to Governor O'Malley for certain signature. The Purple Line and various road expansions will get needed state funding. (Post)

Let ANCs talk more?: Mary Cheh wants to give ANCs an official chance to weigh in on large buildings. Her idea wouldn't give them a veto, but would force city officials to respond to their concerns. (City Paper)

A stop for super stops: Arlington is putting future "super stops" on hold to reassess the design and cost. The budget had $900,000 per stop, but residents said they didn't even protect enough against rain. (ARLnow)

Keep Arlington in the loop as you bike: BikeArlington has a handy map of the "Arlington Loop," the four trails (Mt. Vernon, Four Mile Run, W&OD, and "Aimee" Custis) that circle central Arlington. This makes understanding the bike network much easier.

Anacostia Playhouse gets green light: Phil Mendelson came up with a way around the Anacostia Playhouse's zoning problems: get a permit for the work without formally making it a theater, then switch the use once the BZA approves. They got the permit today, and Mayor Gray even signed it personally. (City Paper)

People want a safer Bethesda: After a driver hit a mom pushing a baby stroller and several other close calls in Bethesda, residents are calling for action on pedestrian safety, but little is forthcoming, and Bethesda Elementary has not yet gotten Safe Routes to School attention. (Gazette, Wendy Leibowitz)

Fences get cut on MBT: MPD tells Met Branch Trail users not to bike alone after "crimnals" repeatedly cut the fence to the CSX tracks. But are they cutting the fence to commit crimes or to cross to the Metro station? (ToTville, TheWashCycle)

Who got tickets?: Who got the city's free tickets for NCAA Sweet 16 games? (NBC4) ... Who got over 60 speeding tickets in Montgomery or Prince George's? (NBC4)

And...: Landlord discrimination against people with section 8 vouchers has declined. (City Paper) ... MARC tickets and the website will look different. (Examiner) ... The most beautiful room in DC? The Library of Congress reading room, say BeyondDC readers.

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Best and worst in the Flickr pool

Here are our favorite new images from the Greater and Lesser Washington Flickr pool, showcasing the best and worst of the Washington region.

Penn Quarter. Photo by brunofish.

Downtown Silver Spring. Photo by Joe in DC.

Photo by Joe in DC.

Miss Pixie's - 14th St NW. Photo by ekelly80.

Langdon. Photo by m01229.

Silver Spring Transit Center. Photo by Joe in DC.

Got a picture that depicts the best or worst of the Washington region? Make sure to join our Flickr pool and submit your own photos!


Transit, real estate mash-up helps you live near transit

Say you're moving to the area, have a job, and want to find places with good transit to work. How do you figure it out? A lot of people just look at the Metro map and don't consider other modes, but a new service called AutNo is trying to help people locate near transit.

Image from AutNo.

This is actually a problem I hear often. A family friend moved to DC a couple of years ago, for a job at PriceWaterhouseCoopers in Tysons. The Silver Line was still a few years off, but he wanted to live in a vibrant, urban neighborhood. Where should he go?

The bus maps are daunting to decipher. It took me a couple of hours to really puzzle through the combinations and cross-reference it with my general knowledge of housing prices in various neighborhoods.

Boston-based AutNo tries to help by putting rental listings and trip planning together in one interface. You can view available rentals (it doesn't have places for sale, yet), click on one, and see transit directions to your office or another location you specify.

The about page reads:

AutNo is the first apartment search designed and developed specifically for people without cars. For the first time since the automobile was invented, the percentage of Americans who drive to school or work is on the decline. Gas prices are skyrocketing and automobile carbon emissions are contributing to global warming. Commuting and living without an automobile is the way of the future for many people. AutNo is dedicated to helping these people find apartments.
It will also show driving routes to work, too, if you want them.

You can narrow down results by price and number of bedrooms. A future feature that would be helpful is to also let people restrict the searches by travel time. That way, you could say that you want a place under $2,000 a month that's no more than a 45 minute trip to work, or whatever.

Basically, combine this with Mapnificent:

Places within a 1 hour transit ride of PWC in Tysons. Image from Mapnificent.

And, at the risk of sounding like a broken record: this is why open data is valuable. A transit agency might build a great app, but they're never going to build a mash-up of real estate data and transit data. When it's easy to put transit routing into an app, you not only can build apps that give people transit routing, but tools and apps that combine transit routing with almost anything else.

Update: I hadn't know it, but WalkScore actually has this exact Mapnificent-style feature. You can filter apartment listings by transit distance to a point:

Apartments within a 1 hour transit ride of PWC in Tysons. Image from WalkScore.

However, when you click on an apartment, WalkScore does not show you the transit routing with trains and buses you would take, while AutNo does. Without that information, people won't as easily learn which buses might work best for them or be able to judge whether a location is really likely as acessible from transit as the system says.

It would be best to have both at once on the same site; as it is now, I'd recommend that people use a combination of both tools for their search.


Must social services and quality of life conflict?

A DC official says that "white liberals" don't care about social services, while black folks "aren't as passionate" about services like recreation centers. Is that right? More importantly, does it matter? Can't we have both?

Photo by stu_spivack on Flickr.

Former DC resident Matt Bevilacqua talks about DC's black-white divide in a post for Next City. It's leading up to an in-depth Forefront story on DC gentrification that could either penetrate difficult subjects or rehash old, cliché tropes. We'll see!

That story includes a quotation by a "black city official who has worked on economic development policy":

On a national political level, we've always been and always will be Democratic," [the city official] told me. "But when you go down into the local landscape or subscribe to the policy of all politics are local, that liberalism has a divide. White liberals in D.C. don't give a shit about social services because they're not of that element. White liberals in D.C. are more about quality-of-life issues as it relates to the lifestyle they want to have.
It is bike lanes. It is dog parks. It is about state-of-the-art swimming facilities. It is about recreation centers. Capital Bikeshare. Car2Go. Streetcars. It's about a way of life. Black folks want this stuff, they're just not as passionate about it."

"Liberals" may not be the right word here, as it's not just liberals who want quality of life services. It's true, though, that a lot of newer white residents do want bike lanes, dog parks, swimming facilities, and rec centers. There's no reason black folks shouldn't want these too, since black folks own dogs, play sports, and have children who could benefit from pools just like folks of any other color.

But even if this official is right that black folks care about them less and white folks care more, why must these conflict? The city has not cut social services to fund dog parks; it cut both in bad times and is increasing both in good times. It does benefit certain politicians or columnists to play groups off each other, but they're not inherently at opposition.

Look at the debate on the 2011 budget, when DC faced a gap thanks to the recession and Mayor Gray proposed a small tax increase amid many cuts (cuts to things both black and white people like). Who opposed it? We had Jack Evans (white), Mary Cheh (white), and Muriel Bowser (black). The main crusader against the idea was Chairman Kwame Brown (black). Supporters included white members like Jim Graham, Phil Mendelson, and Tommy Wells, and black members like Michael Brown and Marion Barry as well as Mayor Gray.

On issues like growth, Michael Brown (black) and Phil Mendelson (white) have more in common in their voting, as do Tommy Wells (white) and Kenyan McDuffie (black). (And all are liberals, at least on national left-right issues.)

Elissa Silverman, a white liberal running for DC Council, has been one of the strongest advocates for social services in the entire city. Anita Bonds, the black interim councilmember, put out a press release about yesterday's budget which first praised its lack of tax and fee increases and the proposed bond tax cut.

We can group officials in different ways. There are black and white folks. There are also liberals and conservatives, and more urban-minded members and more suburban-minded ones. One of these divisions is easy to divine by looking at people; the others require paying attention to officials' actions.

Many voters do vote on the basis of race, but it does the city a disservice when people lump all white folks and black folks to be the same. It's not just white liberals and black liberals, but there's also white conservatives and black conservatives, or white supporters and opponents of a growing city and black supporters and opponents. We can't ignore race, but we can avoid looking only at it and ignoring every other more substantive difference between various groups of residents.

And we can absolutely have a budget that supports both social services and quality of life. Moreover, we have a mayor who won mainly with votes from black folks (and myself) who just proposed a budget that puts strong emphasis on quality of life while also growing social services.


I was in a hit-and-run by a distracted driver

My normal commute between work near Union Station and home in Dupont Circle is 35 minutes, doorknob to doorknob. Tuesday night, that commute came to a grinding halt just 2 blocks from my office.

2nd & F NE. Photo by reallyboring on Flickr.

As I crossed the street at 2nd and F Streets NE, an SUV pulled up to the 4-way stop. The SUV stopped at the stop sign, and I began to cross the street in the crosswalk. As I was just in front of the SUV, the driver, who'd looked down to his phone while stopped (it looked like he was texting), pulled forward full speed into a left turn, hitting me.

In the split second I had as the vehicle began to move before it hit me, I screamed and tried to jump back, but I was directly in front of the SUV, and it hit me squarely in the right leg, rolling over my right foot.

As I screamed, the driver finally looked up, saw me, and yelled "sorry!" out of his open window before continuing on his way. I was stunned.

It had all taken less than 15 seconds.

Waiting for the police

Once I got safely onto the sidewalk, I stopped, and the security guard at the nearby SEC parking garage stopped to ask me if I was okay and comment on the craziness of what had just happened. While I was in one piece, I was pretty banged up and definitely very shaken, and reached into my pocket for my cell phone to call 911.

It felt odd to me to call 911 when nothing was on fire and nobody was bleeding or in imminent danger, but as the security guard pointed out, I'd just been involved in a hit-and-run traffic collision.

Nonetheless, I gave the 911 operator my first name (they did not ask for my last name) and location, explained what happened, declined an ambulance, and was told that the next available unit would be on their way to me shortly. I hung up as a good samaritan came up to ask me if I was okay, and another security guard ushered me into the Securities and Exchange Commission building lobby to wait.

Collision diagram by the author.

Once I was settled inside on a bench, I called my significant other, Kian, to let him know that I'd be late getting home, and he insisted on coming from Dupont to meet me and help me get home once I was done with the police.

Once I hung up with Kian, building security suggested I call 911 again—they were very concerned no officer had responded yet. Kian arrived (via Metro) 25 minutes after I called him, but still no MPD officer had arrived.

The security guards in the building took down my information to let their supervisor know what was going on, and told me that there was a security camera on the corner of the building that might have had an angle to catch the whole thing on tape. They'd be happy to work with MPD to provide the tape.

10 minutes or so after Kian arrived (thanks to Twitter and call logs on our cell phones, I have the timing recorded), we called 911 for a third time. It had been an hour since my first call. They seemed to have no record of our earlier calls, but assured us that this was a priority and that a unit would arrive soon.

80 minutes after the collision, Capitol Police arrived on the scene. The responding officer explained that they'd heard it come in over the radio, and decided to respond. The Capitol Police officer took my full report, spoke to the security guard who'd been an eyewitness, and explained to me that Capitol Police would now have officers canvassing the area on the lookout for the vehicle, but since it had been over an hour, that it probably wasn't in the area any longer.

20 minutes after Capitol Police arrived, and as they're nearly finished writing the report, an MPD unit arrived, explaining that they'd been dispatched from the other side of the city, because of something going on downtown occupying all of the units in the area. The officer asked me to explain what had happened yet again, even though they ended up letting Capitol Police file the report.

Bad intersection?

About 30 minutes after the accident, waiting for MPD, I logged into Twitter on my phone. Many, many people on Twitter expressed their sympathy and kind thoughts (thank you!). As the discussion progressed, several people expressed frustration with that very intersection:

I've definitely noticed on my daily commute lots of drivers blowing through the intersection with a rolling stop, or occasionally no stop at all.

A serious reminder

I'm sore and bruised from the collision, but otherwise I am okay. I'm incredibly grateful for that, and for all of the kind people around me who helped me after the accident, like the good Samaritan and the building security at the SEC.

But as a smart growth and complete streets advocate by day, this experience was a serious reminder that our work for more walkable, bikeable, livable streets for everyone in our communities is far from complete. Even in a place like DC that does so many things right when it comes to transportation and planning, there's more work to do, even at the most basic level.

It's easy to get wound up in rhetoric about "us vs. them", the "war on cars", and so many other issues that we write and read about every day here. We've all been guilty of this from time to time. But when we step back, can't we all agree that cars, bicycles, and most especially, pedestrians, should all have a safe place on our streets? Washington is a great place to live, but we still have a long way to go to make it greater.

Let's do it for the kids in the daycare down the street from this intersection. For our elderly neighbors who can't get around as well anymore. For our children biking to school. From driver to cyclist to pedestrian, everyone benefits from a street that's safe and welcoming for all users.


Breakfast links: Underregulation? Overregulation?

Photo from PoPville.
Pop up and up and up: The pop-up row house at 11th and V, NW got even taller; it's now over twice as tall as, but no wider than, the adjacent 2-story rowhouses. Should laws prevent this? (PoPville)

Why the food truck rules?: The food truck association says most trucks won't be able to serve downtown under new regulations, which allow only 3 at a time in key areas. Is this regulation necessary at all? (City Paper, Slate)

No renting your house short term: Crestwood residents aren't happy with a house that rents out to visitors through vacation rental websites. The law agrees; short-term rentals require a property to be licensed as a hotel. (DCist)

Mobile Metro gets better: WMATA updated their mobile site (view it on a non-mobile system here). Dr. Gridlock reviews its features, which include service alerts. (Post)

Three more years (of Sarles): Richard Sarles will stay through at least 2016 as the WMATA board has extended his contract. (Post)

Transportation money and lockbox: A Maryland Senate committee approved the transportation funding bill and a "lockbox" that prohibits using transportation money for other purposes. (CBS) ... Ben Ross argued against the lockbox idea in 2011.

Alexandria wants to double CaBi: Alexandrians are happy with their 8 Capital Bikeshare stations, and city officials want to double that by this fall and spread to new neighborhoods. But one reader frets that the city is cutting libraries while also expanding CaBi. (Alexandria Times, jimble)

No to Pike lanes: Residents are fighting a Maryland SHA plan to widen Rockville Pike near Walter Reed; projections show that the change would only save 7.6 seconds per vehicle. (Bethesda Now, Ben Ross)

And..: Is DMPED focusing more on attracting businesses and less on real estate? (City Paper) ... JetBlue wants US Airways and American to give up slots at DCA in their merger. (WBJ) ... Besides #pedestriansafetytips, can we make streets safe to walk? (Express)

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What will get more families biking?

Washington DC has made great strides over the past decade towards creating a vibrant bicycle culture. How well does this extend to families so far? How can bicycling be more appealing to families?

Families biking to school via Stanton Park

Recent research has found that children who bike or walk to school perform better. A Danish study found that exercise, including from biking or walking to school, helped kids concentrate better, while chauffured children had a poorer grasp of geography, another study found.

In spite of the benefits, there are a number of reasons why families may not choose to or be able to bike. The reason I most often hear from parents is safety (even when biking is convenient). I feel the same way. Too often, I have found myself biking with my children, following all road and safety rules, only to be overrun by a driver who sees my small children as obstacles, not a family.

Mayor Gray's sustainability plan sets goals for "safe, secure infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians" with a target to "increase biking and walking to 25% of all commuter trips."

Part of this needs to be a concerted effort to focus on making it easier for children and families to commute to school and get around in general, by bike.

The city has programs aimed at stimulating families to bike. For families with school age children, the District Department of Transportation's (DDOT) offers the Safe Routes to school program, run by Jennifer Hefferan. She works with schools to support various types of active transportation models, including biking.

At my own children's school, Jennifer has designed more efficient drop-off and pick up processes, helped us to get appropriate signage, and worked with us to develop a comprehensive longer-term safe routes plan for our school. On biking, DC's Safe Routes program coordinated with the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) to triple the number of bike racks for the school, as well as advise and support us on efforts like Bike to School Day and Fuel Free Fridays.

There are also advocacy organizations like WABA, who offer safety and skills education opportunities, including Bike Rodeos for children. KidicalMassDC promotes "safe, fun family biking in the Greater Washington area" by holding regular mass family rides and teaming up with DDOT, WABA and bicycle shops like BicycleSpace and the Daily Rider to host the ABC's of Family Biking.

Personally, I find programs like ABCs of Family Biking particularly compelling, because they bring together a comprehensive community of stakeholders invested in promoting family biking. There are opportunities to learn from each other, practice skills, and discover gear that makes sense for individual needs and lifestyles.

What seems to be lacking, however, is education (and skill-building) directed at drivers. Those who bike spend time learning how to co-exist with drivers, but until drivers learn to co-exist with cyclists, families will continue to face safety-related obstacles when considering whether or not to bike.

What obstacles do you see to getting your family or other families to bike?


Gray will maintain most lower traffic camera fines

In the budget released today, Mayor Gray has allocated money to keep many traffic camera fines, which DC recently lowered, from automatically rising again. He will also propose raising fines a tiny bit for moderate speeding and considerably for major speeding.

Photo by Gerard :-[ on Flickr.

Last year, Councilmembers Tommy Wells, Mary Cheh, and Marion Barry introduced a bill to lower fines for speeding up to 20 mph over the limit, for blocking the box, turning right on red without stopping, and other violations. This responded to public sentiment that fines were too high and that camera tickets were an unfair cash cow for the District.

The original bill reduced fines to $50 for speeding up to 20 mph but left high fines ($200-250) for more speeding, on the logic that such egregious speeding is really reckless and clearly intentional. Phil Mendelson, however, pushed to modify the bill to use a linear scale instead of one with a sudden jump.

To lower the fines cost money, and the Council didn't find enough money to lower all speed fines. Instead, the fine for speeding 11-15 mph over the limit only dropped from $100 to $92. It would have made more sense to use the limited funds to drop the lower-speed fines first instead of the higher-speed ones, but that's not what happened.

They also only allocated money in the current fiscal year. Unless this budget said otherwise, the fines would have automatically jumped back up on October 1. Mayor Gray indeed allocated money to keep many of the lower fines, including ones for infractions besides speeding.

However, the administration proposes to set the fine for 11-15 mph and 16-20 mph over both at $100, said budget director Eric Goulet, and also raise the fine for speeding over 20 mph to $250 $200 and over 25 mph to $300. This is actually the same fine schedule Gray previously proposed when the Council was debating lowering fines.

Fines for running red lights did not go down in the last bill. That's in part because AAA's John Townsend actually argued in the task force for maintaining higher red light fines, though he's since started spewing press releases complaining about them, despite his earlier stance.

Here is a table of the old fines, what Cheh and Wells proposed, what passed in the final bill both as the authorized level and the actual level that got funding, and what Gray is proposing for 2014.

Speeding 1-10 mph (not enforced)$75$50$50$50$50
Speeding 11-15 mph$125$50$75$92$100
Speeding 16-20 mph$150$50$100$100$100
Speeding 21-25 mph$200$200$150$150$200
Speeding 26-30 mph$250$250$250$250$300
Running red light$150$150$150$150$150
Blocking the box$100$50$50$50$50
Not stopping at stop sign$100$50$50$50$50
Not yielding to pedestrian in crosswalk$250$50$75$75$75
Not stopping before right on red$100$50$50$50$50
Right on red when prohibited$100$50$50$50$50

The Budget Support Act is not yet available, so all of the information here is based on my conversation with Goulet, and I am checking to confirm their proposal for the never-enforced 1-10 mph violation and whether not yielding to a pedestrian is $50 or $75. I will update the post when that is available. Update: After talking to Goulet, I have updated the table and added a row for speeding 26-30 mph, whose fine will be rising from $250 to $300 as well.

I originally pushed for even lower fines from cameras, on the logic that the fine should just be high enough to deter speeding or other behaviors, and that it could buy peace. Unfortunately, we really don't have good evidence about what deters speeding. Also, AAA has stepped up the pace of camera complaints and attack press releases, so it's become clear that there's no partner for peace over there.

Therefore, Gray's proposal is a reasonable position. It keeps some of the formerly most egregious fines down and should deter some of the most reckless behavior.

It's not waging any kind of "war on drivers," but if AAA is going to claim there is one even after DC leaders make a good faith effort to address the group's concerns, DC may as well prioritize making neighborhoods safe for residents by adding cameras and maintaining fines.


Streetcars, parks, and libraries get boost in Gray budget

Bike lanes, parks in NoMA and around the city, streetcars, libraries 7 days a week, new trash cans for free, school modernizations, and many more programs get funding under the operating and capital budgets Mayor Gray is unveiling this morning.

Photo by EnvironmentBlog on Flickr.

Streetcars: In the 6-year capital plan, streetcars get $400 million, which should fund completing the first line from Minnesota Avenue to Georgetown, engineering the Anacostia line, and studies for north-south lines such as Georgia Avenue.

The operating budget contains $6.2 million to start running the streetcar, which Gray continues to promise will roll by the end of the calendar year.

Bike infrastructure: There is a pot of $10.7 million for bike lanes and trails, which appears to be entirely new; formerly, there was no dedicated local bike money. The budget staff have promised to follow up to confirm this. Another $5.1 million will go to "bike-friendly streetscapes," which will be interesting to see in more detail.

Capital Bikeshare: The mayor is funding 10 more Capital Bikeshare stations beyond the ones that area already supposed to be going in. In December, DDOT announced 78 locations, of which it had funding for 54 and was going to install those by March. Unfortunately, it's late in installing most of those. That list also identified 24 future locations, so this budget funds 10.

Buses: The budget office's presentation did not discuss the Circulator or other bus projects. I will follow up to find out whether any Circulator expansion in that master plan have funding. Streetcars are important, but they are one of several modes we need, and for many neighborhoods, better bus service is the better way to help people get around.

Bridges: The South Capitol "racetrack" project and new Frederick Douglass Bridge gets $622.5 million, which would fully fund the project.

Taxes: The budget imposes no new taxes or fees, maintains DC's fund balance, and keeps the debt cap at 12%. The administration also wants to get rid of the tax on out-of-state bonds, which they say primarily impacts seniors and is far and away the biggest complaint they get about taxes. Gray chief of staff Chris Murphy said they "always felt it was ill-conceived."

Affordable housing: As promised, the administration is putting a one-time $100 million into affordable housing. $86.9 million goes into the Housing Production Trust Fund, ($20M in FY 2014 and the rest in FY 2013). The rest, $13.1 million, goes to other smaller initiatives that the recent Comprehensive Housing Strategy Task Force recommended. He is also promising to keep the 15% of the Deed Recordation and Transfer Tax, which is supposed to go to the HPTF, in there; previous budgets raided that to fund other programs.

Parks: The capital budget provides $50 million for parks (likely a few different small parks) in NoMA: $25 million to acquire land, and $25 million for development. DC made a mistake when it upzoned NoMA without any plan for parks, which is why this is going to be expensive. However, NoMA is generating a lot of tax revenue.

Other parks capital spending includes $20 million fro the Fort Dupont ice arena, $26.4 million for Barry Farm, $2M to renovate and improve athletic fields and parks, $18M for the Southeast tennis & learning center, and funding to modernize 32 play spaces in 8 wards including Fort Greble, Palisades, Macomb, and Takoma which will start in April as well as already-underway work at Noyes, Raymond, and Rosedale.

Libraries: Gray is expanding funding for DC Public Libraries so that every library can be open 7 days a week. Most will be open until 9 pm Monday to Thursday as well as afternoons on Saturday and Sunday. They also get $2 million for books and e-books.

Further, the budget provides $103 million to renovate and, as part of a public-private partnership, expand the MLK Library. There is $15.2 million to renovate the Cleveland Park library, $21.7 for the Palisades library, and $4.8 million for Woodridge's library.

Trash: Residents who want to replace their trash cans are in luck: the administration wants to replace everyone's trash cans over 5 years, for free. If there is money available, they also hope to let people replace stolen or damaged cans without the fee residents have to pay today.

Flooding: Bloomingdale residents hopefully will see some relief from their flooding problems with $1.5 million in the budget to pay for recommendations from the task force studying those problems.

Police and fire: The public safety budget pays for 4,000 sworn officers, replacing police and fire vehicles, cadet training programs and maintaining domestic violence programs that are seeing federal cuts. In general, the budget officials say, they are replacing all federal from sequestration across the board, even assuming sequestration will continue throughout the year.

Raises: DC employees will get their first pay raise in 4-7 years, spanning both union and non-union employees, and DC will fully fund its pension obligations.

We'll have more analysis and further details in upcoming posts.


Gray budget funds school modernizations and more

All middle and high schools that still need modernizing will get done in the next 6 years, under the budget Mayor Gray is releasing today, and some of the most out-of-date elementary school buildings.

Ballou HS. Image from DCPS.

The capital plan has $465 million to modernize high schools, starting with $162 million in Fiscal Year 2014. The money will finish modernizations for the remaining high schools: Ballou, Dunbar, Ellington, and Roosevelt. It also funds the planning, design, and construction for a "Spingarn Career & Technical Education Center" which the administration plans to open in the fall of 2014 at Spingarn High School, which is the only high school closing in the current round.

Middle schools get $242 million over 6 years, with $69 million in FY 2014. That will fund building a middle school in Brookland and renovating the closed Shaw building, as well as modernizing all remaining middle schools such as Stuart-Hobson.

$920.5 million ($128 million in FY 2014) goes to elementary schools, to modernize more schools such as Janney and Langdon. Hearst and Mann, which don't have cafeterias, will get them as part of modernization projects. Shepherd Elementary gets funding for the extra recommendations that came up during its modernization process.

Libraries and librarians

As already announced, Gray's budget increases education funding by $80 million. It matches the level we already saw in the budget allocations, meaning that the threshold for small schools will indeed increase and some schools will see less funding for librarians and other positions.

However, Gray is expanding funding for DC Public Libraries so that every library can be open 7 days a week. Most will be open until 9 pm Monday to Thursday as well as afternoons on Saturday and Sunday. They also get $2 million for books and e-books.

Further, the budget provides $103 million to renovate and, as part of a public-private partnership, expand the MLK Library. There is $15.2 million to renovate the Cleveland Park library, $21.7 for the Palisades library, and $4.8 million for Woodridge's library.

Charter schools, special education, and more

DC will provide $7.4 million more for charter school facilities. Each charter gets $3,000 per student per year to pay for their buildings, but $200 of that is currently federal money; DC is bumping up its local contribution to the full $3,000.

In addition, the budget provides $4.3 million in FY 2013 and $6.4 million in FY 2014 for special education early intervention, which helps many children avoid developing ongoing special needs; $1.8 million for early learning centers; $1 million for truancy programs; and $1.7 million more for UDC.

Some of this funding comes from savings DC has enjoyed from reducing the number of special education children who are getting education outside of DC. If the District doesn't have educational facilities for special needs, it has to pay to send the students elsewhere, at great cost; according to Gray's chief of staff Chris Murphy, this has declined from $168 million per year when he took office to about $30 million, largely thanks to capacity at DCPS and charters to serve these children.

We will have more on the education budget in coming weeks.

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