franklin school dc


Sample letter

In January 2010, the Coalition for Franklin School sent a letter to the City Administrator, who has the power to transfer the Franklin building back to the D.C. Public Schools. Franklin was transferred from the D.C. Public Schools to the city in 2000 by the D. C. Control Board. Feel free to use ideas from this letter for you own letter to the current City Administrator, Rashad M. Young (Email: You can also “copy” and “paste” parts of this letter into your own letter. The Coalition sent copies copies of the letter to the members of the City Council. E-mail addresses for the Councilmembers are available on our website (see “What Can I Do?”)

Coalition for Franklin School

Mr. Rashad M. Young

D.C. City Administrator

John A. Wilson Building

1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 521

Washington, D.C. 20004

Dear Mr. Young:

As the District government makes plans for Franklin School, we ask that you act to ensure its retention in the public inventory and that you seek its development for educational uses that will assure its continued accessibility to the people of Washington, D.C.

Planning for a building of this quality and significance deserves a more thoroughgoing and considered approach than Franklin School has yet received.  The current D.C. request for proposals, offering Franklin for private use, was developed without public discussion or input on the appropriate use of this magnificent public building.  The request for proposals was formulated without the needed guidance of a Master Facilities Plan which, although required by D.C. law, does not yet exist. This proposed privatization comes at a time when the District is paying top dollar to lease space for government agencies, and while educational and other public-serving organizations seek suitable space in vain. 

As one of the oldest and most valuable buildings still owned by D.C. citizens, Franklin School merits an especially high standard of care.  Franklin School’s design and construction are of uniquely high quality, as is reflected in the national landmark status accorded to both the exterior and the interior of the building.  Franklin School is the work of Adolf Cluss, the District’s signature nineteenth-century architect, whose Eastern Market and Sumner School are among the District’s most cherished public buildings. Franklin has special meaning for D.C.:  opened for classes in 1869, Franklin was built at a time when Washingtonians who wanted an excellent education for their children could obtain it only by paying for it at private institutions. The care and expense lavished by the D.C. public on Franklin marked the community’s rejection of this rationing of education based on private wealth, and its commitment to quality public education for all Washingtonians.

That there are workable options for developing Franklin School for public use is demonstrated by past District government successes.  The District brought Cluss’s Sumner School back to its former luster through a successful public / private partnership.  District redevelopment of Grant School, another of D.C.’s publicly owned, nationally landmarked buildings, has provided space for School Without Walls, one of our premier public high schools.

A similar process achieved successful results for Franklin School: the Board of Education assembled a public / private partnership which accomplished a complete renovation of the exterior of the building in 1992.  This progress was halted when the Control Board abruptly transferred the building out of the DCPS inventory in 2000.

Franklin School provides the Bowser Administration a unique opportunity to make an eloquent demonstration of the priority it gives to excellence in public education.  It is an opportunity to affirm that in D.C., the public realm is made up not just of the work-a-day infrastructure of sidewalks and trash bins, but also includes those superb places in which excellence in design and construction has been used to express the high aspirations of D.C. citizens for this community, and that these places are for the use and enjoyment of all Washingtonians, not just the fortunate few.

We acknowledge that making use of opportunities like that presented by Franklin School requires the best in public planning and management – innovative, imaginative, and forward-thinking. We ask for your leadership in this effort.