JOINT BASE ANACOSTIA-BOLLING, Washington D.C — The U.S. Air Force signed a leasing agreement Jan. 26 allowing the LEARN D.C. Charter School to operate on Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling beginning with the 2021-2022 school year.
The charter school, pending approval by the D.C. Public Charter School Board, will be a first in the region, meeting the unique needs of both military families on the installation and civilian families in the neighboring community.
The D.C. Public Charter School Board is scheduling the LEARN D.C. facilities hearing March 15 with a final Charter Contract approval decision expected during the May 17 meeting. The hearings are open to the public. The public may submit comments and questions to the board in advance of each meeting at firstname.lastname@example.org. JBAB leadership will also have an opportunity to speak and answer questions.
“We are thrilled to be taking this significant step toward bringing a school to our community,” said Col. Mike Zuhlsdorf, 11th Wing commander. “The educational partnership between LEARN D.C., the D.C. Wards, and JBAB is an investment in our children and will undoubtedly make America stronger in the future.
“This is an effort the team has been working for a few years. To see it coming to fruition this year is a testament to the commitment we’ve all made for the success of this endeavor,” he added.
The school will operate in temporary facilities on base while a permanent school facility is built. During this time, it will offer classes for children pre-kindergarten three through first grade. Adding 50 scholars and a grade level each year, the school expects to serve 550 children in grades pre-kindergarten three through eighth grade, with half of the spaces open to children of active-duty military members and the other half available to children in the D.C. community.
“This school is the result of an incredible team who came together with a common goal: to provide the best educational opportunities to military and civilian children in the area,” said Maj. Gen. Ricky Rupp, Air Force District of Washington commander. “I’m thankful to our partners at LEARN Charter Schools and the remarkable men and women at AFDW and JBAB who are making this initiative a reality.”
The initiative to bring a charter school to JBAB began in 2008 when parents from the base and Ward 8 communities voiced the need to expand school choices in the area. These parents formed the Ward 8 Parent Operator Selection Team, or POST, which in 2016 selected the LEARN Charter School Network to serve the base and Ward 8 communities.
“LEARN is honored to partner with the Air Force, JBAB and the local community to deliver a high-quality public education to both military and civilian families. We were delighted to be selected by the parents of the Ward 8 POST four years ago based on our track record of serving military and civilian children from two of our existing campuses. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to welcome the first class of LEARN D.C. scholars this fall,” said Greg White, LEARN Charter School Network president and CEO.
The site selected for the charter school underwent environmental assessment requirements per the National Environmental Policy Act and reached a programmatic agreement with the D.C. State Historic Preservation Office. JBAB professionals and LEARN D.C. representatives have also undergone months of discussions for the site, facility and planning to meet the unique requirements of operating a public school on a military installation.
Robert E. Moriarty, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Headquarters Air Force, signed the leasing agreement, officially identifying the site for the new school, at the Pentagon Jan. 22.
“One day, after I am long retired, I hope I cross paths with a graduate of this charter school. Maybe in learning more about the military community, one of the children attending from off base will enlist in the Air Force or commission through ROTC or the Air Force Academy. Maybe one day they’ll be a command chief or a commander,” added General Rupp. “Wouldn’t that be great? This is something that should inspire us now, as we work to make real and lasting changes in our Air Force and its connection to the community.”