Proposed New Campus
The River School’s Strategic Plan focuses on exploring solutions that will bolster our mission, our financial sustainability, and our unique legacy of ensuring an inclusive educational experience for children with hearing loss.
To realize these goals, River has sought and found a new campus site at 4220 Nebraska Avenue, NW. The property is a 2.27-acre estate in the Tenleytown neighborhood of Washington, DC known as “Under Oak," and includes the historic Buchanan mansion built in the 1920s.
The Need for a New River School Campus
The new campus addresses several critical priorities:
- The River School’s unique approach to language and literacy—for children with hearing loss and also for their hearing peers—is most effective if it continues through age 11 or 12, when writing skills are becoming deeply developed.
- At our current facility on MacArthur Boulevard, we've used every square inch of space, and we need more in order to grow our program and maintain our mission.
- For River’s program to weather annual changes and trends in enrollment more effectively over the long-term, and to scale costs, River’s enrollment would gradually increase to 350 from 220 students.
- Our children need open green spaces to explore, interact, create and learn.
The Planning Process
We have assembled an exceptional team to design a leading-edge facility that embodies the spirit of our inclusive community and will provide a nurturing educational environment for generations of River School students to come. At the same time, we are committed to respecting the surrounding neighborhood and serving as an asset to the community.
We are working directly with a wide range of stakeholders, including DC Historic Preservation officials to ensure our renovation of the historic mansion and development of new academic facilities are compatible with the character of the estate. Site designs have been significantly reworked based on community and Historic Preservation Review Board input, and we have developed landscape design concepts to enhance the natural features of the site and to address issues raised by neighbors, particularly regarding streetscape and screening elements.
Taking into consideration the perspectives of neighborhood residents, we have outlined a comprehensive transportation demand management strategy to proactively address the impact of our operations on the surrounding transportation network and encourage sustainable transportation options for members of our school community. Information on our initial plans was discussed at a Transportation Information and Listening Session on April 22, 2021. Since that time, our team has been working to incorporate this and other input into our Comprehensive Transportation Review (CTR).
While The River School team has made significant progress in connection with this comprehensive planning effort over the past several months, we also recognize that some members of the Tenleytown community still have questions and concerns about the project—and we are committed to addressing and working collaboratively to resolve those issues. As a result, our BZA hearing date has been rescheduled from summer 2021 to October 27, 2021. This additional time will allow us to work directly with all interested stakeholders to more fully understand their questions, interests and concerns; actively collaborate to develop solutions and responses; and effectively integrate those approaches into our planning effort.
Opportunities for Engagement and Information Sharing
The River School is committed to engaging with interested stakeholders. We will continue to work collaboratively with members of the Tenleytown neighborhood, ANC3E and ANC3D and District agencies in the weeks leading up to the October BZA hearing.
- With respect to project design, our team has been working to address feedback from the community, as well as comments received from the DC Historic Preservation Review Board. As a result, our design and landscape concepts evolved significantly since our February BZA filing. We held a community information and listening session to present our revised concept plans on Tuesday, June 29, 2021. You can view the meeting presentation and a recording of the Zoom session here.
- With respect to transportation issues, our team has integrated the feedback we received at the April 22, 2021 information and listening session, as well as follow up questions we received from Tenleytown neighbors, into the analysis of our Comprehensive Transportation Review (CTR). We are focused on using the opportunity of our CTR review process to not only address the potential impacts associated with River’s relocation to 4220 Nebraska Avenue NW, but also to work with neighbors and DDOT to address traffic-related concerns that already exist in the community.
- We convened a follow-up transportation-focused community information and listening session on Thursday, July 1, 2021 to review our CTR findings with neighbors, and work together to develop potential solutions that the River team can propose and advocate for as part of the BZA review and approval process. You can view the July 1 meeting presentation and a recording of the Zoom session here.
- On September 1, 2021 we convened a session to discuss The River School's updated transportation plan, which includes a substantial reduction in proposed vehicle trips to campus in response to community feedback. You can view the September 1 meeting presentation and a recording of the Zoom session here.
- On September 10, 2021, we filed our Comprehensive Transportation Review (CTR) report with DDOT. A full copy of the report, including all appendices, can be accessed here.
Opportunities to Visit the Proposed New Campus
If you are interested in meeting members of The River School team and visiting the site of the proposed new campus, please contact Sherry Rutherford.
Input and Feedback
We encourage you to review the resources available here and invite you to submit questions or comments through the Community Input Form. Responses will be updated regularly and posted in Feedback and Responses.
Thank you for your interest in The River School's Proposed New Campus, and please check back frequently for new information.