- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 18, 2004

D.C. public school system Superintendent Clifford B. Janey saw firsthand yesterday the dilapidated inside of Coolidge High School but said he could do little more than add it to the list of schools that also need renovation.

“We don’t have enough money to go around,” he said during a tour of the school, in the 6300 block of Fifth Street NW.

Mr. Janey was joined on the tour by Council member Adrian M. Fenty, Ward 4 Democrat, who said most of the system’s middle, junior high and senior high schools need repairs.

He also said one problem is the schools have not received enough money in the last two or three years but he and other officials are “committed to renovate every school in the District.”

Mr. Fenty also said some of the repairs were unwise.

He said, for example, that the $7,000 thermo-pane windows at the roughly 70-year-old Coolidge should have cost no more than $1,000 apiece.

Mr. Janey, who officially became superintendent in September, said one of the first steps would be to make a priority list and begin with projects that can be completed in 30 days.

“We’re taking a deeper look,” he said.

A leaky roof at Coolidge has damaged classrooms, and some students said the school has too few bathrooms because of plumbing problems.

“We [also] don’t have enough teachers,” said Brandon Lyles, 17. “But we have a great marching band.”

Cecil Robinson was appointed principal at Coolidge this fall. He said the slate roof was replaced two years ago but has continued to leak and that broken skylight windows let in even more water.

“They haven’t come back to fix it,” he said.

The tour also revealed six classrooms on the third floor that are closed for repairs, holes in ceilings, broken and missing seats in the auditorium and graffiti barely covered by paint.

Mr. Robinson said the school’s electric generating plant is inadequate because it can supply only enough power for five computers in four classrooms.

Mr. Janey and Mr. Fenty said they could not estimate the cost of repairs.

“I came here in 1977, and this was absolutely beautiful,” said Terry Goings, president of the Coolidge Parent-Teacher Association. He said the school system’s facilities management sent a man to work on the generator, but he didn’t bring any tools.

He came again the next day, but had the wrong tools, Mr. Goings said.

The tour also included a visit to the roughly 76-year-old Roosevelt High School in the 4300 block of 13th Street NW.

Principal Leari L. Phillip said a wing of the school was without heat for one-and-half years and finally was closed when students wore coats but still sat shivering.

The problem was fixed earlier this week, said Assistant Principal Lin Lawton.

“System-wide, there is a challenge,” said Tom Brady, the school system’s chief operating officer. “It’ll be a long-term improvement. There is no easy solution.”

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