Breakthrough Montessori Facilities Q&A
Where will Breakthrough Montessori be located for the 2018-19 school year?
For the coming three school years (2018-19, 2019-20, and 2020-21), Breakthrough Montessori will operate from two campuses: 1244 Taylor St. NW (Petworth) and 6856 Eastern Ave. NW (Takoma). Starting with the 2021-22 school year, the entire school community will be located at 6856 Eastern Ave. NW.
Why is Breakthrough Montessori operating from two campuses?
When Breakthrough moved into the Taylor St. building for its inaugural year (2016-17), we knew the facility could not hold the school at capacity. The building offers 10,000 square feet, which is enough to house 5 classrooms (a total of 135 students). At capacity, Breakthrough will need 40,000 square feet to house 15 classrooms and a total of 405 students. Like most charter schools, we began with a smaller space that fit our budget, knowing that we could afford a larger space as our student body (and budget) grew.
During the 2016-17 school year, our Board of Trustees conducted an exhaustive search for a new facility. We could not find a building that met our requirements for a price we could afford, so we decided to stay in the Taylor St. location for the following school year while continuing to search for a new facility. We found the 6856 Eastern Ave. location, which provides a wonderful opportunity for a public Montessori school. When completely renovated, the site will offer 40,000 square feet to house our whole school, spacious classrooms, an onsite playground, a multi-purpose room, access to public transportation -- all at an affordable price.
The Eastern Ave. location, however, currently has tenants on the second floor who have an agreement with the building owner until 2021. The only space available for immediate occupancy is the first floor. Moreover, the Eastern Ave. location requires extensive renovations in order to provide the ideal space for a public Montessori school. For budgetary reasons, we must spread these renovations over time. For these reasons, we are not able to move the entire school community to the Eastern Ave. location until the 2021-22 school year.
How do I know which campus my child will attend?
The school’s leadership is currently in the process of determining how the student body will be divided. We understand that families have different - but equally valid - priorities: some families want a campus close to where they live; some families want siblings to stay at the same campus; and some families want to keep their children in their current classrooms. We are conducting surveys and listening sessions to better understand family needs, and we will make a decision as to how to divide the student body by the end of January. All currently-enrolled families will know which campus their child will attend by the start of February.
Why did the school choose the 6856 Eastern Ave. location?
When renovated, the Eastern Ave. location will provide an excellent facility for the Breakthrough Montessori community. It is an affordable building that offers enough space for a Montessori program (our classrooms tend to be more spacious than traditional classrooms). It is furthermore in the same ward as the Taylor St. location, reducing the likelihood that families will have to leave Breakthrough due to the distance of the new location. The building is a short walk from the Takoma metro station (red line) and it is located in a neighborhood with favorable zoning regulations that will help us undertake the necessary renovations and enforce the safest traffic/parking restrictions.
I heard Breakthrough considered occupying Latin American Montessori Bilingual’s (LAMB) space. Why did you decide not to?
The facility did not provide a permanent solution. Building Hope only manages the annex, which can serve a maximum of 150 students.
Where will Breakthrough Montessori be permanently located?
The facility located at 6856 Eastern Ave. will be our permanent home. The entire school community will be there by the 2021-22 school year when renovations are complete.
What is the timeline for renovations to the 6856 Eastern Ave. campus?
First floor renovations has a completion date of August 1, 2018. By August 2021, we will have renovated the second floor as well.
Are you sure you will be able to complete first floor renovations over the summer?
Breakthrough Montessori is partnering with Building Hope, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping charter schools in DC find and finance school facilities. In their 14-year history, Building Hope has delivered every project on time and on budget. They are well-accustomed to managing renovations of 30-40,000 square feet in 6-8 weeks.
Are any renovations planned for the Taylor St. location?
We are planning some cosmetic renovations to the Taylor St. location to ensure there is a cohesive aesthetic between the two campuses.
Tenants’ rights in Washington, DC are very strong. What if the current tenants of 6856 Eastern Ave. choose not to leave in the next three years?
Tenants’ rights for commercial facilities are different than tenants’ rights for private real estate. We have a legally-binding lease agreement that ensures the current tenants will leave the space by 2021.
Will Breakthrough Montessori expand its administrative team to cover the two campuses?
In order to maximize the budget available for our classrooms and instructional staff, Breakthrough Montessori does not plan to hire more administrative positions to manage two campuses. Our current administrative team will split their time between the two locations. We plan to hire additional support staff so administrative staff will no longer provide direct services to students.
How will pick-up and drop-off work at the Eastern Ave. location?
We plan to have curbside pick-up and drop-off at the Eastern Ave. facility, just as we currently have at the Taylor St. facility. Building Hope will provide recommendations for the safest and most efficient pick-up and drop-off pattern.
Who is involved in the facilities process?
The Board of Trustees of Breakthrough Montessori leads the process. They receive support in property identification from Cresa Real Estate and Building Hope. Project oversight is managed by Building Hope, Studio 27, Studio MB and MCN Build. Implementation oversight is managed by Building Hope.
What do I have to look forward to at the 6856 Eastern Ave. location?
When completed, the Eastern Ave. location will offer the ideal space for our public Montessori program. As you'd expect, there will be large classrooms, natural playscapes, and a general purpose room. The new facility will move us closer to achieving our vision of high-quality public Montessori for Washington, DC families, and we are excited to share this journey with you!
How can families help with the transition?
We hope families will maintain open lines of communication with school staff so we are aware of your needs and how the transition impacts you. We also welcome any ideas, resources, or contacts you can share that will help us prepare the ideal space for our students at 6856 Eastern Ave. We are so appreciative of all the time, energy and resources our families have shared with Breakthrough thus far. Families are the heart of Breakthrough, and we are so glad you are here!