After years of being derided for a range of structural problems including broken escalators and a far from attractive appearance, H.D. Woodson High School in Northeast Washington is slated to be torn down this summer to make way for a new $99 million school.
Allen Lew, executive director of the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization, testified before the D.C. Council yesterday that the school will be demolished and students temporarily assigned to the old Fletcher-Johnson educational center, an under-enrolled school which then-superintendent Clifford B. Janey closed in 2006.
In June, "we're going to be cannibalizing the building -- taking out stuff that can be used and [conducting a] haz mat abatement," said Lew, who appeared before the council to answer questions about his office's proposed $54 million operating budget and $1 billion capital budget. After that, he added, the building will be razed.
Nicknamed the "Tower of Power," the seven-story, 250,000-square-foot building has been long regarded as a design monstrosity and a neighborhood eye sore. Though it is one of the newest schools in the system, Woodson has been plagued with so many structural problems that officials decided more than eight years ago that it needed to be demolished.
"We're looking forward to the groundbreaking and the opening of the new school," Mark Roy, a 1978 graduate and community member of the school's local school restructuring team, told D.C. Wire.
Over the years, Roy said, he's heard lots of disparaging remarks about the building. "They said it looks like a jail. It looks like a mental institution. It's so drab," he said. "That's why we nicknamed it Tower of Power," he added, to counter the insults.
The new school will be constructed on the football field. Lew said students and teachers will be enlisted to make suggestions to the school's design team.
Lew said construction crews also will work over the summer getting Fletcher-Johnson ready to receive students, adding walls to the building's "open-space" floor design.