Penny-Wise, Pound-Foolish: D.C. Schools Waste Millions

The Washington, D.C. school system recently spent tens of millions of dollars to buy sophisticated new boilers to heat the schools.  Then it allowed them to break down because it wouldn’t spend a mere $100,000 per year maintaining them.  It wouldn’t do the most basic things to keep them from deteriorating, like treating water to remove mineral deposits that build up in (and ultimately destroy) boilers.  Now, it is spending more than $10 million per year to replace new boilers that are being destroyed through neglect.

It’s elementary knowledge to almost every resident of the Washington, D.C. area that the region has hard water that contains minerals, so certain appliances need distilled or treated water to operate effectively.  That’s why I buy distilled water to use in the baby bottle sterilizer that cleans my daughter’s baby bottles.  But nothing is too obvious for D.C. public school administrators to overlook.  (The Washington Post story about this is entitled “The Price of Neglect,” Dec. 31, 2007).