Let me say right off that this post is not intended to diminish a constructive school activity. Anything that provides productive activities for young people is a plus in any community, but in this case — one person’s music is another person’s noise.
On Saturday, May 4th Paul Public Charter School held its Family Fun Fest, an annual event started some years after the school received its charter in 2000. The Fest is an activity where Paul students, their parents, and apparently anyone who drops-in, gathers on the school grounds to enjoy games, sporting activities, food, and music — loud music — blasted by an equally loud DJ with an amplified portable sound system.
Unfortunately, FGC residents have been subjected to the three hour musical fallout from this yearly activity since its inception. While many of the co-op residents do not object to the activity being held — not that anyone asked our opinion in the first place — most would agree that the music is too darn loud, especially for people who just want to relax in their home on a Saturday afternoon following a long work week. There is no respite from the noise that starts around noon and ends at 3 PM. Even closing the windows does not solve the problem, especially for people living in units (or houses) directly facing the school.
Those of us who have complained about the loud music in the past know that calling the police about the problem is futile. Depending on who we talk to at the precinct, we are told either that the school “has a permit” for the activity, which apparently provides an exemption from the DC noise ordinance – a District law that governs how loud noise can be in a residential area – or, as has been witnessed in the past, an officer will be dispatched to the school. He or she will speak privately to the DJ or a Paul staff member who is supervising the event. That results in the volume being lowered temporarily. But within minutes after the patrol car rolls out of sight, its as if someone starts the Chinese whispers game (also called pass-it-on) with the message being “crank up the volume” and the loud music starts all over again.
Saturday’s Fest, apparently intended to draw a crowd, was advertised on Craig’s List. From my personal observation approximately 150 people, give or take a few, showed up.
SIDENOTE: Plans are underway to expand Paul PCS to a 400 student high school. Next year the school will serve grades 6 through 10 and each year thereafter will expand by one grade to extend to grade 12, with expectations that the first high school class will graduate in 2016. It is anticipated that construction and renovation will begin on the school sometime this year to accommodate the additional students.