In the late 1990s, the Army Corps of Engineers spent $80 million to replace outdated heating systems in the Washington, D.C., school system. Since then, 40 of the 55 renovated heating systems have broken down or needed major repair. Public schools officials failed to maintain the new equipment, leading to problems such as damage from mineral deposits that built up because the water was not properly treated. It would have cost just $100,000 a year to remove harmful minerals from the water, but maintenance officials say there was never enough money to do it. The failing boilers are a testament to the school system's longstanding inability to keep its buildings in shape or make the best of huge infusions of money.
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FROM FEBRUARY 2007: The Washington, D.C., school system plans to reopen two schools on Wednesday that have remained shuttered because of heating problems. After a week of having students shuttled to other buildings while repairs were made, Superintendent Clifford Janey says that the heating systems at H.D. Woodson Senior High School and Johnson Junior High are fixed. (Washington Post)