By Neo H. Morake, Amidon-Bowen Alumna
The start of the school year began on Monday, Aug. 26 and Amidon-Bowen Elementary School students started the new school year facing similar infrastructure issues as they have faced for the past five years: sinking playground surfaces, buckling floors in the multi-purpose room and a gymnasium in need of repair. These overdue repairs were the focus of a letter drafted by ANC6D’s elected officials earlier this year (April 2019), seeking to identify capital funding to address these outstanding work orders.
Over the course of the last five years, Amidon-Bowen has submitted multiple service requests to the Department of General Services (DGS) to repair indoor and outdoor flooring issues. The oldest work order, placed in July 2014, concerned restoring the gymnasium floor, which was, and still is, heavily utilized as a basketball court and indoor play space. The second outstanding request, focused on the buckling floors of the multi-purpose room, which lead to tripping and falling hazards, had been submitted on numerous occasions. The last of the work orders, submitted over a year ago, details the hazards of the ABES playground, which is used as a gathering place for families and children outside of school hours.
With ABES students qualifying for national mathematics competitions, outperforming other students at the DCIAA Elementary School Track and Field Championships and teachers being named finalists for the Council of Chief State School Officers National Teacher of the Year Award–great and exciting things are happening at Amidon-Bowen. Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, recognizing the past year’s achievements of the school, has pledged to continue working on resolving these issues and investing in the school.
Earlier this spring, Councilmember Allen acknowledged that DGS did not have the funds within their 2019 fiscal year budget to address the outstanding service requests. In light of this, during the DC FY2020 budget proposal, he secured $1.4 million in the budget towards the expansion and revamping of Amidon-Bowen’s playground space. Repairs to the playground will entail a high investment in green space, the placement of a better playground surface, and new playground equipment–similar to the work done at Van Ness Elementary School’s playground.
While the repairs of ABES’ playground will begin during the 2020 summer, there is no date in place for the repairs to the multi-purpose room and gymnasium floors. There is hope that repairs can be completed during the school breaks, after the FY20 funds become available October 1.
Regarding the playground, Councilmember Allen wants to engage the school community and the neighborhood in creating a shared vision, stating “Playgrounds are a community space…when we do this right, [we] hope to make it an exciting [and] engaging space.”