School Climate & Safety

D.C. Schools Get Blitz of Repairs for New Year

By Catherine Gewertz — September 04, 2007 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

In one of his most visible moves since taking control of the District of Columbia schools, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty oversaw a summer campaign to fix broken air conditioners, leaky roofs, and other problems at half the district’s schools.

The city spent $80 million on a wide range of repairs at 70 of 142 schools, and plans to spend another $120 million in the coming months on tougher jobs at others, such as replacing roofs or heating systems.

The work is the first step in a 10-year, $2.3 billion effort to tackle deteriorating physical conditions and a backlog of 10,000 work orders.

Former Superintendent Clifford B. Janey launched the repair program, but was fired when Mr. Fenty won control of Washington’s 55,000-student school system in June. Mayor Fenty chose Michelle A. Rhee for the new job of schools chancellor, and tapped Allen Y. Lew to oversee facilities modernization. (“Mayor Takes Control, Picks Novice to Lead Troubled D.C. District,” June 20, 2007.)

The $80 million slated for the summer repairs quickly escalated when Mr. Lew and his team visited schools.

“I don’t think anybody could have adequately described the depth of the problem that we walked into,” said Tony Robinson, Mr. Lew’s spokesman. “If you go into some of these schools, you’d think we were a Third World country.”

See Also

See other stories on education issues in the District of Columbia. See data on the District’s public school system.

In a recent examination of the system, The Washington Post found that schools wait an average of 379 days for responses to “urgent” requests.

The flurry of fixes has sparked optimism in some quarters.

“It has a lot of people going back into school feeling improvements that were desperately needed have been made,” said Margot Berkey, the director of D.C. Parents United, a school watchdog group.

But Dorothy Brizill, the executive director of DCWatch, another group that monitors school issues, called the repairs “easy PR” for the first-term mayor. She is skeptical that city leaders know how to involve the community in forging change in the classroom and the central office.

“I’m still waiting for something beyond the press conference,” Ms. Brizill said.

A version of this article appeared in the September 05, 2007 edition of Education Week

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Leadership in Education: Building Collaborative Teams and Driving Innovation
Learn strategies to build strong teams, foster innovation, & drive student success.
Content provided by Follett Learning
School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Principals, Lead Stronger in the New School Year
Join this free virtual event for a deep dive on the skills and motivation you need to put your best foot forward in the new year.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Privacy & Security Webinar
Navigating Modern Data Protection & Privacy in Education
Explore the modern landscape of data loss prevention in education and learn actionable strategies to protect sensitive data.
Content provided by  Symantec & Carahsoft

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety Video Should Teachers Carry Guns? How Two Principals Answer This Question
One has two armed school employees. The other thinks arming teachers is a bad idea.
4 min read
People hold signs in the gallery against a bill that would allow some teachers to be armed in schools during a legislative session in the House chamber on April 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn.
People hold signs in the gallery against a bill that would allow some teachers to be armed in schools during a legislative session in the House chamber on April 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn.
George Walker IV/AP
School Climate & Safety Former Uvalde Police Chief Indicted Over Response to Robb Elementary Shooting
The former chief and another former officer face felony charges of child endangerment and abandonment.
3 min read
Flowers are placed around a welcome sign outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Wednesday, May 25, 2022, to honor the victims killed in Tuesday's shooting at the school.
Flowers are placed around a welcome sign outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Wednesday, May 25, 2022, to honor the victims killed in the shooting at the school.
Jae C. Hong/AP
School Climate & Safety Can a Teachers' 'Bill of Rights' Bring Order to the Classroom?
Alabama's new law gives teachers the authority to remove misbehaving students from class.
4 min read
Image of a student sitting outside of a doorway.
DigitalVision
School Climate & Safety Gaming Is Part of Teen Life. These Districts Use It for Better Student Outcomes
Scholastic esports is attracting students who would otherwise not participate in extracurricular activities.
4 min read
Connor Allen, of Cranberry, Pa. picks his character before a round of "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate" during the Steel City Showdown esports tournament at the Pittsburgh Playhouse, on May 11, 2019 in Pittsburgh.
Students get ready before an esports tournament at the Pittsburgh Playhouse, on May 11, 2019 in Pittsburgh.
Alexandra Wimley/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP