School Prepares to Unveil Plans for Expanded Campus Construction

Amelia Paulsen '19

Plans for construction on the Washington Home property will be released next month in the school’s strategic plan, said Head of School Bryan Garman. The strategic plan will also include details on the school’s long-term goals and vision, he said.

The school’s efforts to consolidate all three divisions of the school by moving the Lower School to the Wisconsin Avenue campus have provoked controversy within the Sidwell community and among residents of the surrounding neighborhoods. 

Debate has centered around the school’s decision to buy the Washington Home property. The Washington Home was a hospice care center, but its residents will need to relocate after The Washington Home sold the property.

A group of Washington Home residents filed a lawsuit to block the school’s purchase, but in October 2016, a D.C. Superior Court judge ruled that the deal could go forward. The school finalized the $32.5 million purchase in December 2016.

 Garman said in 2015 that the school worked with the Washington Home’s management to provide “ample time and resources to execute thoughtful and individualized transition plans for residents.”

While Sidwell’s strategic plan -- including details of the campus consolidation project -- won’t be released until mid-October, Garman’s previous description of the consolidation’s benefits included “shared community spaces for the Middle and Upper Schools” as well as a “long overdue renovation of the Upper School” building. 

Sidwell administrators also said that they hope to preserve as much green space as possible on the Washington Home site, possibly by converting some areas currently used for parking to fields for students and including “green roofs” with live vegetation on any new buildings, much like the one on the existing Middle School. 

Within the Sidwell community, some have expressed concerns over the school’s ability to continue expanding financial aid while funding the new construction project. According to the school’s website, Sidwell is “still committed to providing generous financial aid.” 

People living in nearby neighborhoods have said they are concerned about the short term traffic and noise of a construction site, as well as the long term impact of more students and staff commuting to the Wisconsin Avenue campus. Representatives from the school have said they will consider both traffic and concerns of surrounding neighborhoods in their plans. 

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