Dear Ross Families:
We just learned that we are in danger of losing funding for the renovation of the playground and field our kids desperately need at Ross Elementary.
We received information earlier this week from Deputy Mayor for Education Paul Kihn formally announcing that critical repairs and renovations at Ross—and 20 other schools across all eight Wards—were moving forward. On Thursday, we had a parent engagement session to review playground and field concepts and designs with the DCPS Facilities team. Then, on Friday, we received notification that the D.C. Council is considering defunding these school projects under a last-minute proposal by Councilmember Vincent Gray. Please see attached Disapproval Resolution filed against the reprogramming here.
Please contact Councilmembers in support of keeping the funds needed by our Ross students and D.C.’s kids across the District. Although Ross is at the center of our community, this is not just about Ross. In many cases, the funds are needed for other essential school infrastructure, including replacement of heating and cooling systems which do not work properly.
I attached a draft letter, also below, that we ask you to send to the D.C. Council at the following addresses before the vote on Tuesday.
Thank you for your consideration and support.
Subject: Reprogramming of Capital Funds for DC Public Schools Stabilization Projects
I am writing to voice my concerns with and opposition of the recently introduced Disapproval Resolution PR23-0087 associated with the capital funds reprogramming request identified as REPROG23-00004.
As the parent of a Ross Elementary student, I am concerned about news reports that funding for the critical renovation of the Ross Elementary playground and athletic field, currently scheduled for this summer, could now be at risk.
At Ross Elementary, the field and playground are unsafe and need to be replaced as soon as possible. The field, which was installed thirteen years ago, has an SBR crumb rubber infill which has been linked to injury (burns and concussions) and illness from exposure to toxic chemicals, heavy metals and/or carcinogens. When the infill is not periodically replaced, which is the case at Ross, the substance hardens and becomes comparable to concrete, increasing the risk of injury. The Ross field failed one of two hardness tests administered last year. Due to these health concerns, there is currently a moratorium in the District on the installation of this surface. D.C. Code § 10-168. Because Ross does not have a gymnasium or any other field space for physical activity, our children continue to be on this surface multiple times per day – at arrival, for physical education, at recess, and at dismissal. The toxicity concerns about crumb rubber infill are exacerbated at Ross because the turf has many holes in it; our children regularly come home covered in potentially toxic turf particles.
The playground equipment is also old, cracking, and needs to be replaced. Additionally, under the current playground design, members of the public have to walk through our children at play in order to access the school, posing an additional safety concern.
I ask you to please fund the field and playground renovation at Ross. Thank you.