Axios D.C.

Picture of the D.C. skyline.

🐪 Happy Hump Day.

💨 Today's weather: Sunny and breezy. High near 50.

  • Gusts could blow up to 39 mph!

📍 Situational awareness: Peak bloom could come at the "early side" of the original prediction for March 22-25, the National Park Service says.

Today's newsletter is 768 words — a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: 🍎 The state of our schools

Illustration of school desks, some of them cut out with nothing behind them.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

D.C. public school students still haven’t fully recovered from the pandemic despite returning to the classroom.

Driving the news: A report out today from the D.C. Policy Center says students are still struggling with the residual impacts of COVID on their learning and mental health.

Why it matters: The report shows the District needs to evaluate its efforts to shore up learning losses, focus on student well-being, and improve student achievement and test scores, which have plummeted.

Zoom in: Despite being in-person, some students are still having trouble attending class and some older students aren’t moving onto higher ed post-graduation, per the Policy Center's findings.

  • While high school graduation rates have increased from the previous school year, the report estimates that only 8% of ninth graders will complete a postsecondary degree within six years of leaving high school, down from 14% pre-pandemic.

Details: Chronic absenteeism, or the rate of students absent for 10% or more of the year, rose to 48% last school year, up from 29% three years ago. The think tank points to quarantine, mental health challenges, and community violence as factors.

More than a third of students reported feeling sad or hopeless at the start of the last school year, a slight increase from the 2020-2021 year.

  • The report's authors say feeling unsafe amid an increase in violent crime may be driving some of this stress.

Of note: Hiring of new teachers also lagged; the fall 2021 vacancy rate was 6%, three times higher than in the fall of 2018. But 74% of teachers stayed in their jobs last year, up from 70% pre-pandemic.

Yes, but: The authors say the current school year is showing signs of a return to a pre-pandemic teacher workforce.

What they’re saying: DCPS has said it’s combating test score declines through an expanded tutoring program. That program reached 7% of students from May 2021 to December 2022.

What we’re watching: A school budget fight is brewing, with some parents, teachers, and advocates worried that proposed budget cuts will exacerbate the teacher shortage and leave students short on resources.

  • At-large D.C. Council member Robert White is set to introduce legislation today to bolster teacher retention through flexible scheduling and increased mental health services.

On the job hunt?

💼 Check out the fresh open positions in the city.

  1. Director, Digital Strategy at Pew Research Center.
  2. Advocacy Communications Specialist at The Association of American Medical Colleges.
  3. Digital Communications Manager at American Economic Liberties Project.
  4. Manager, Grant and Proposal Development at National Association of Community Health Centers.
  5. Communications Officer, Digital Media at Walton Family Foundation.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Post a Job.

2. 🤐 Tight lips on Wilson pool reopening

The pool shown in 2011. Photo: Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A month after being shut down by DC Health, the District doesn't know yet when Wilson Aquatic Center will reopen.

Catch up quick: The indoor pool in Tenleytown is one of D.C.’s largest. Health officials on Feb. 14 ordered it closed due to poor maintenance, defects, and improper temperatures.

Driving the news: So far, repairs have fixed the showers for temperature issues, and leaks in the filter room have been handled, the Department of General Services told Axios yesterday.

  • Work continues on the HVAC system.

Ward 3 council member Matt Frumin told Axios the city is “clearly struggling to implement the short-term repairs needed to reopen” the pool.

Flashback: A health inspector had reported violations that included faulty dehumidifier drainage and exhaust ventilation, leaking pipes, and inadequate sink and shower temperatures.

🤿 Worth noting: The report did state the pool and spa water quality was “excellent."

3. Around the Beltway: White House tour days are here

Illustration of a giant panda wearing glasses and looking at a smartphone.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

⛲️ The White House will open up for spring garden tours on April 1 and 2. Tickets are free and available at the White House Visitor Center on the morning of both days. (NBC4)

🚁 The ACLU sued the National Guard over using military helicopters during police protests in D.C. in the summer of 2020. (DCist)

🚨 Northern Virginia school communities are raising awareness about drug abuse amid rising concerns about student overdoses. (Washington Post)

🏗 There’s more being built around The Wharf, including nearly 500 apartments planned across the street. (UrbanTurf)

4. Deanwood’s new neighborhood haunt

The Strand Theater after it had been abandoned.

The historic theater sat abandoned before recent development efforts. Photo: Amanda Andrade-Rhoades /The Washington Post via Getty Images

The folks behind Ivy City Smokehouse and The Point are looking to put another neighborhood on the map.

What’s happening: The Strand will open inside the historic Strand Theater building in Deanwood later this year, the Washington Business Journal reports.

  • The restaurant is part of a larger development project.

Restaurateur and ProFish Seafood owner Greg Casten is behind the restaurant and says Ward 7 deserves more sit-down restaurants. He describes his latest venture as a neighborhood spot that will serve some of the popular items from his Ivy City Smokehouse menu.

Between the lines: Casten’s team has a history of making a splash in up-and-coming neighborhoods before they’re up-and-coming, including Ivy City and Buzzard’s Point. They hope to do the same in Deanwood.

The new restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner and serve smoked meats and seafood, per the WBJ. Casten also plans to display local art at his new spot and make the space available for events.

Today's newsletter was edited by Fadel Allassan and copy edited by Patricia Guadalupe.