Cost for New Duke Ellington School More Than Doubles, Auditor Says

The cost of the new Duke Ellington School for the Arts in Washington, D.C., has more than doubled, a new report from the D.C. auditor revealed.

The price of the school slowly soared from $71 million to $178 million without a comprehensive review by the D.C. Council on the location or other cost drivers, D.C. Auditor Kathy Patterson said.

"The bottom line is that our school modernization program has had little discipline to date," Patterson said. 

Patterson said two other locations that may have cost less than the Georgetown location were rejected without public debate or vetting by council. 

"There was no hard-dollar bid for the work on Ellington and, in fact, we don’t yet have a final construction price – and demolition began more than a year ago," Patterson said. 

She has suggested the District return to a traditional "design, bid, build" process. 

Duke Ellington is one of the oldest schools in the District's public school system. The new school would feature new, non-traditional classrooms, digital art studios and dance studios, among other amenities.

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