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Stoddert Neighbors Pitch In After Teacher Parking Crunch

By George AltshulerCurrent Correspondent

The 20 Stoddert Elementary School teachers and staff members whose parking spaces have been occupied by temporary “demountable” classrooms have places to park — for now.

Nearby residents donated their visitor parking passes to the school as a stopgap measure, but the passes will expire at the end of the year.

The elementary school, located at 4001 Calvert St., is bursting at its seams. It expanded from 256 students in the 2010-2011 school year to 429 students this school year, according to Don Bryant, the school’s principal.

Ward 3 D.C. Council member Mary Cheh said stakeholders put together a package of solutions earlier this summer. They planned to use the visitor passes, put in place a shuttle to a nearby parking lot and eliminate parking restrictions on the south side of Davis Place next to the school.

But the shuttle, funded by D.C. Public Schools, was seldom used. It was discontinued when the solution of the visitor passes proved successful.

Cheh praised the stopgap solution, but she questioned how long it could continue. “I would like to see something more formalized,” she said.

Meanwhile, residents and the Glover Park advisory neighborhood commission have called for more community discussion before the Transportation Department changes parking signs.

At last Thursday’s commission meeting, chair Brian Cohen said removing the requirements for residential parking in the surrounding area is a “terrible idea.”

“It’s not targeted at the teachers. Dozens of people who don’t live in the ward will park there,” he said. “It will also put a hardship on people in the community who need parking in the evening.”

Cheh said that for now the District will hold off on removing any parking signs. She spoke favorably of changing the hours of parking restrictions in the surrounding area so that teachers could park there during the day, but said residents would still have protected spots in the evening.

Cheh added that this change could apply to more than just the block of Davis Place that borders the school. “Perhaps this will be more acceptable if we broaden the lens a little bit and do this on other surrounding blocks as well,” she said.

At the commission meeting on Thursday, commissioner Jackie Blumenthal expressed support for changing parking restrictions. “There is no one parking on these streets during the day,” she said.

Cohen, meanwhile, advocated providing the staff with special parking passes they could use to park on neighborhood streets during school hours. Community members first presented the idea to the Transportation Department this summer, but officials have not responded favorably.

Department spokesperson Reggie Sanders said his agency can’t issue parking permits to specific groups because doing so would open the floodgates to this type of request.

Cohen, however, said this situation is a special case. “I think the ideal solution is still on the table,” he said. “And if someone has taken it off the table, they should put it back on the table.”

Cheh said that her ideal solution would look more broadly and “deal with the overcrowding” at Stoddert Elementary, which underwent a major renovation less than four years ago.

“I would like to see an addition at Stoddert, but obviously that’s long-term,” she said. “What we can do in the interim would be to change the parking hours during the day around the school.”

This article appears in the Sept. 17 issue of The Georgetown Current newspaper.