- The Washington Times - Monday, August 29, 2016

Now that the doors have swung wide for the 2016-17 school year, it is time to direct some gnawing questions toward the Muriel Bowser administration.

The queries have little to do with regular class schedules; the SAT, the ACT and other tests; or extracurricular activities. You know, the usual stuff thrown parents’ way at the beginning of a school year.

The upcoming questions should be far more probing. After all, the schools chancellor, Kaya Henderson, is out; the police chief, Cathy Lanier, is out; and the director of general services, the agency responsible for building and maintaining city facilities, is out. All three were critical to ensuring the health, education, welfare, safety and security of D.C. youths.

Beware, however. The mayor doesn’t want anybody and everybody to attend her forums on the search for a new chancellor. She’s already put a sort of “tickets, please” on blast.

The first forum is scheduled for Tuesday at Roosevelt High School, and the other two on Wednesday at Eastern High and Savoy Elementary. All three are scheduled for 6:30-8 p.m.

Wanna know what type of educator Mayor Bowser has in mind to replace Miss Henderson and keep school reform moving forward? Ask.

Wanna know if the “new” police chief is going to be a law enforcer or political hack? Put the question to Miss Bowser and her deputies.

Wanna know if a leader or a follower will replace Christopher Weaver at the Department of General Services? Don’t wait for the mayor to hand out an appointee’s resume. If there are facilities, on school property or not, that need tending, ask the mayor what her plan is to improve them and when.

The departure of Mr. Weaver is no minor event. DGS is simultaneously involved in many government silos as the management arm of the city’s real property portfolio, its facilities and major contracts. For sure, school renovations are always on City Hall’s front burner. And DGS just claimed on Monday bragging rights to environmental efforts at newly renovated Roosevelt High, tweeting “Great News! @RooseveltHSDC is ready to start #recycling food waste in their all-new kitchen & cafeteria! #elevateDC.”

Many of you may recall the lead-in-the-water fiasco. Well, that was a DGS fix-it problem too.

DGS also will oversee the construction of a new NBA and WNBA training facility in Southeast, and it oversees parks, pools, playgrounds and recreation centers.

Moreover, on the safety front, DGS won’t be sitting in the back seat when it comes to the 2017 presidential inauguration either. The agency will be working in tandem with the Secret Service and Chief Lanier’s Metropolitan Police Department. (Or should I have said former chief?)

At any rate, as DGS explains on its website: “Across the District, building security is a large piece of keeping our people safe. DGS’s Protective Services Division, in combination with the Metropolitan Police Department and security contractors, works diligently to protect our city’s investments, residents and visitors.”

The money is in the current budget and upcoming fiscal budget, which begins Oct. 1, to give your children what they need and what you want.

So, be frank and knock, and the doors, it is hoped, will open to plenty of sunshine.

And remember this as well: The Bowser administration loves the shade; bright sunshine, not so much.

⦁ Deborah Simmons can be contacted at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

• Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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