- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Some 96 years after its first students walked through the doors, a renovated John H. Ketcham Elementary School will reopen Monday to welcome 418 D.C. students for a new school year.

The D.C. Public Schools offered principal Joyce Goche-Grimes more than $160,000 for upgrades and improvements, but she chose to use the money for what she considers more than cosmetic improvements.

“The building has always been clean, but it has never been as bright and well-lighted as it is today,” Miss Goche-Grimes said yesterday before taking Mayor Anthony A. Williams and two members of the D.C. Council on a tour of the building and an addition built in 1971.

“This is a good, safe, bright, happy environment where children can learn,” said Miss Goche-Grimes. Many of her 52 staff members have said upgrading the building’s 19th-century design to 21st-century standards is expected to make a real difference.

“These types of improvements have been made to many schools in the District,” said Cornell Brown, a D.C. schools official.

Last year, the school system had only $850,000 for minor summer improvement projects. Work this year also included plastering, plumbing and floor repairs in more than 100 buildings.

In March, the D.C. Council allocated $6 million under Mr. Williams’ “Ready Schools” initiative to help cover maintenance costs not included under the school system’s capital improvement budget.

“Ketcham has used its money for all the things we need to be doing on the short term while we’re working on the long term,” Mr. Williams said.

“It’s dollars well worth the spending,” said D.C. Council member Kathy Patterson. The Ward 3 Democrat said the one-time allocation could be followed by a major school facilities bill later this year.

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