Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Gray faults quality of school repair

Dovetailing two threads ("Gray vs. Fenty, One on One" (tm) and facility repairs) into one post, DC Councilmember Vincent C. Gray is criticizing the quality of the facility updates made by DCPS this summer.
In a letter to Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), Gray said council staff visits to 15 schools over the past two weeks show "major improvements" in areas such as roofing, science labs and auditoriums. But they also reveal problems that leave several schools "not learning ready," with classes scheduled to begin Monday, he said.

The letter from Gray (D) is the latest sign of deep official anxiety over whether city schools will open smoothly after a nine-week program of school closures and consolidations imposed by Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee. In June, Rhee closed 23 schools because of low enrollment and designated 28 others to receive thousands of children from the shuttered buildings. Some schools needed extensive renovation to accommodate pre-k and kindergarten students.

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His letter also cited Eliot-Hine and mentioned others schools that might encounter problems next week. He said asbestos abatement in the auditorium at Garnet-Patterson-Shaw Middle School in Northwest has prevented other renovations from going forward. "This is a de facto acknowledgement that the work cannot be finished before the start of school," Gray wrote. He also mentioned Francis-Stevens Learning Center, a newly consolidated Pre-K-8 school in Foggy Bottom, as "not learning ready."

Air conditioning at Roosevelt Senior High School and West Elementary in Northwest was "unreliable," Gray said, although work had been done over the past year. Scheduled plumbing repairs at Ferebee-Hope Elementary had not begun as of Aug. 11, Gray said, and electrical work was delayed because of lack of a permit.

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