Testimony of Robin-Eve Jasper
Department of Real Estate Services
Adrian M. Fenty
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair, Vincent C. Gray
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004-3003
Good afternoon Chairman Gray and fellow members of the Committee of the Whole. My name is Robin-Eve Jasper, Director of the Department of Real Estate Services (“DRES”). Thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony on PR18-593, the “Clark School Disposition Approval Resolution of 2009.”
The Clark School building, located at 4501 Kansas Avenue, N.W. has been vacant for over a year. The proposal to long-term lease the property to the E.L. Haynes Public Charter School will save taxpayer dollars, improve a community asset, and provide valuable educational services for District residents.
Built in 1968, the Clark School is 53,800 square feet on 5.5 acres of land. The structure and roof of the building are in good condition but the facility itself requires a number of costly repairs. For example, the facility is not ADA compliant and needs new plumbing and new HVAC equipment. The estimated cost to fully modernize the facility and add a gym is approximately $15 million.
Returning the property to productive use as a school facility will maximize the efficient use of available square footage and reduce the amount of capital investment that is required. The Clark School is not a good candidate for reuse as a District office building. Retrofitting the facility for District government office use would require large capital investment. In addition, the Clark School is not close to a metro station and is in a low density residential neighborhood.
The E.L. Haynes Public Charter School will relieve the District of the need to renovate and maintain the Clark School. The charter school will enter into a 25-year lease with a 25 year renewal term with the District at fair-market rent – as required under the Landrieu Act. The rent was determined by an independent third-party appraisal firm. The District will provide a rent credit of approximately $15 million for the actual costs of construction amortized over the lease term in exchange for completion by the tenant of critical capital improvements to the building. These improvements will modernize the facility for the charter school’s use, and will increase the value of the property for the District. The District will be relieved of all of its responsibilities for repairs and maintenance, utilities and security costs for this facility during the lease term. Just as beneficial, the District will retain ownership of the property at the end of the lease term.
The E.L. Haynes Public Charter School was selected by the District after successfully responding to a Request for Offers (“RFO”) in September, 2008. The RFO was a competitive process open to all public charter schools in the District of Columbia. By law, the District is required to provide charter schools a right of first offer for surplus school buildings under specific terms and conditions required by statute. The Deputy Mayor for Education and the Department of Real Estate Services reviewed each submission to evaluate:
- Educational vision;
- Project vision;
- Capability of applicant;
- Past experience with similar projects;
- Financial feasibility; and
- Best interests of the District.
The E.L. Haynes Public Charter School met all of the qualifications for the RFO and demonstrated a strong track record for providing superior educational services for District residents.
Leasing the Clark School to E.L Haynes will allow the charter school to expand its student base, gradually accommodating students through the 12th grade. E.L. Haynes currently serves 460 pre-kindergarten through 7th grade students. The school was the first in the District to use a year-round calendar. It also provides over 47 weeks of extended day educational programming. The school is nationally recognized and has received a number of awards. E.L. Haynes has been awarded the Fight for Children first-ever Quality Schools Initiative Award and was twice named a Silver Award winning school in the New Leaders for New Schools Effective Practice grant program. This award was given in recognition of outstanding student achievement gains and ranked E.L. Haynes in the top 10 in a consortium of 144 charter schools nationwide.
With a track record of educational success and a clear vision for the future, the E.L. Haynes Public Charter School will be a valued tenant in the Ward 4 community. The Clark School will be returned to productive use as it was originally intended, as a public school facility; the building will be modernized; the District will be relieved of its burden to pay tens of thousands of dollars a year in fixed costs to maintain an empty asset; the facility will be rented at fair market value; and the District will retain the property at the end of the lease term. In the end, the community will regain a school, the school will gain needed improvements, and the District will once again benefit from partnering with the charter school community.
Thank you again for the opportunity to testify. I am available to answer any questions you may have at this time.