Local: Education

$25 million renovation 'defective' at D.C. elementary school

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Local,Education,Lisa Gartner

The $25 million renovation of one of the District's top-performing public elementary schools has left cracked floorboards, leaking ceilings and a gym where all of the insulation work may need to be redone, city officials told The Washington Examiner.

Kenneth Diggs, a spokesman for the Department of General Services, said the firm that worked on Janney Elementary has been reprimanded but not barred from applying for more contracts with the District.

"But it's not like they are going to be able to work again, no problem," said Diggs about Winmar/Dustin, which won the contract through the bidding process. A representative from the firm did not return an email seeking comment Wednesday.

With ground broken in January 2010, the project included a 35,000-square-foot addition, modernized classrooms, and updates for the cafeteria and hallways. One of the highest-performing DC Public Schools campuses, Janney has attracted a healthy student enrollment over the years, requiring an expansion.

But when Ward 3 Councilwoman Mary Cheh visited Janney recently, she said she discovered "defective" work.

"The flooring was cracking and lifting up and things of that nature -- buckling and lifting up in places," Cheh said. "There were leaks in the entranceway, all the trees had died and the gym -- which is on top of the library -- was supposed to be insulated. The principal described it as listening to a herd of buffalo when kids are in the library."

After being alerted by Cheh, the General Services Department dispatched workers to Janney, who put in temporary flooring and are planning to install a more permanent fix during the school year. Officials are seeking a recommendation regarding the gym from a consultant.

Alexis Comrack, co-president of the Janney parent-teacher association, said she was aware of the flaws but that parents overall were impressed with the changes.

"The facility as a whole is just amazing when we think about where we were a few years ago and where we are now," Comrack said.

lgartner@washingtonexaminer.com

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