Giving Compass' Take:
- Neena Hagen discusses a Philadelphia teachers union's report that summarizes the scope of the problems with school facilities in the city.
- How can funding be allocated to address the school infrastructure crisis? How can you support schools in your area?
- Read more about problems with school infrastructure.
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Dozens of Philadelphia public schools continue to have serious environmental hazards, including damaged asbestos, peeling lead paint, and mold, according to an analysis by the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.
The union’s report, based on inspections of school buildings and district records largely unavailable to the public, outlines the scope of facilities problems that plague Philadelphia schools, which have an average age of 70 years. In the report, union officials identified six main hazards in the city’s aging buildings: lead paint, lead in drinking water, asbestos, lack of ventilation, mold, and roofing issues.
In a statement released Monday afternoon, teachers union officials urged the district to invest in facilities upgrades and remediate “toxic conditions” for teachers and students. They also asked for improved transparency about environmental hazards in schools.
Remediating the most pressing environmental concerns would cost about $200 million, according to the report, and simply maintaining all public school buildings would cost billions more. According to the district’s 2017 Facilities Condition Assessments, the district has a 25-year deferred maintenance backlog of needed work, which would cost an estimated $4.5 billion to complete.
Several Philadelphia City Council members asked Superintendent William Hite at a Tuesday hearing about his plans for fixing the district’s aging buildings. Hite said the district will spend $325 million of its $1.1 billion in federal stimulus funding on facilities improvements.
In response to the union’s report, district spokesperson Marissa Orbanek issued a statement Wednesday morning, saying the district has spent $250 million on remediating buildings in the past year and plans to invest $2 billion in capital improvements over the next six years.
Read the full article about school infrastructure by Neena Hagen at Chalkbeat Philadelphia.