(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Bowser and community members broke ground on renovations that will convert an abandoned church into a new modern education campus for Early Childhood Academy Public Charter School (ECA PCS). ECA PCS is a Tier 1 school in Ward 8 that serves students in pre-K3 through third grade.
“This is going to be the learning space and play space that the students, families, and staff at ECA deserve,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser. “When we invest in our school facilities, we’re investing in the future of our students and communities.”
Over the last 13 years, ECA PCS has operated as one school in two separate community centers. Currently, the small classrooms are divided between two buildings, making it challenging to implement a robust educational program with ample recreational options. This project will bring the school under one roof through the combined rehabilitation of the former church and the construction of a new 30,000 square-foot addition. When the renovation is complete, students will have three levels of classrooms, play spaces, a music room, a cafeteria and gym, an auditorium, offices for the teachers, and a state of the art facility.
“After 13 years housed in two small community centers, we are thrilled that our students at Early Childhood Academy Public Charter School will start the 2019-2020 school year in the beautiful and spacious, brand new facility that they deserve,” said Executive Director of Early Childhood Academy Public Charter School Wendy Edwards.
The project, which is being financed through a combination of ECA PCS funds, grant funding from the Office of the State Superintendent, DC Government facilities allotments, and federal New Markets Tax Credits, marks a milestone for new development in the Washington Highlands neighborhood. It is also an example of how the Bowser Administration is working to ensure New Market Tax Credits are used to support catalytic investments in low-income neighborhoods. The deal is structured as a unique lease-to-own arrangement that will allow ECA PCS to acquire the site from The Menkiti Group.
"The Menkiti Group is proud to have this opportunity to develop and deliver not just another transformative development project to the Washington, DC community, but one that truly exemplifies our mission of transforming lives, careers, and communities through real estate,” said CEO and Founder of The Menkiti Group Bo Menkiti. “We are particularly pleased that the new Early Childhood Academy will allow young students the opportunity to have a safe, holistic learning environment as soon as the doors open next year, and for many generations in this neighborhood to come.”
Mayor Bowser has made historic investments in education during her time in office, and her Fiscal Year 2019 “Fair Shot” Budget is the largest investment ever in public education in the District, which invests $1.3 billion to continue modernizing District schools. These investments ensure District students have access to safe, welcoming learning environments by providing a 2.2 percent increase in the per pupil facilities allotment.
Mayor Bowser was joined at the groundbreaking by Acting Deputy Mayor for Education Paul Kihn, Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White, The Menkiti Group Founder and CEO Bo Menkiti, Executive Director of ECA PCS Wendy Edwards, ECA Board of Directors Chair Dennis Sawyers, members of the project team, and students and school administrators at ECA PCS.