District of Columbia Public Schools:

Availability of Funds and the Cost of FY 1997 Roof Projects

T-AIMD-98-95: Published: Mar 9, 1998. Publicly Released: Mar 9, 1998.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the results of its review of the District of Columbia Public Schools' (DCPS) efforts to repair school roofs during the summer of 1997, focusing on: (1) when funds were made available to pay for roof repairs; (2) the cost of the roof repairs, including cost per square foot; and (3) additional roofs to be repaired in fiscal year (FY) 1998 and beyond.

GAO noted that: (1) roof repairs were done at 61 D.C. schools during FY 1997; (2) the General Services Administration managed the work at 10 schools and DCPS at 51 schools; (3) the majority of District public schools were built over 50 years ago, generally have not been well maintained, and, consequently, substantial deferred maintenance existed; (4) in addition, concerns about safety and problems with leaky school roofs have been widely reported; (5) GAO and others have documented less than adequate condition of the District's public schools in several reports; (6) when D.C. schools closed for the summer, at least $38 million was available for DCPS-managed roof repairs; (7) DCPS was not prepared to start making repairs immediately because it had not completed sufficient initial work and it had difficulties insecuring bids; (8) GAO'S review showed that DCPS spent about $37 million for roof replacement/repair in FY 1997; (9) extensive work was performed to repair and replace masonry, cornics, flashing, and coping and to clean drains; (10) as a result, the costs were higher than what would have been incurred for roofing work only; (11) considering the costs for all the work involved, the average per square foot cost was about $20; (12) years of neglect and inadequate repair and maintenance practices all served to increase costs over what could be expected in well managed, adequately financed entities; (13) for FY 1998, the DCPS Capital Improvement Program budget indicates that about $35 million will be spent on 40 school-roof projects; and (14) currently, DCPS has 45 closed schools, which it intends to sell or lease.

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