ABOVE PHOTO: PA Gov. Tom Wolf speaks at the press conference at Roosevelt Elementary School to announce the $15.6M funding to improve conditions for Philadelphia public schools.
Last week, Governor Tom Wolf, Mayor Jim Kenney, members of Philadelphia’s legislative delegation and School District of Philadelphia leaders visited Roosevelt Elementary School announced $15.6 million in joint funding for lead, mold and asbestos removal at 57 school buildings.
“The safety of our children should always be a priority and our schools must be healthy environments where students and teachers can focus on learning and building bright futures,” said Governor Wolf. “The combination of this state and district funding will make the classrooms and hallways safer at dozens of schools and improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of children in the city.”
Of the $15.6 million, the District is investing $8 million to remove lead paint, mold and asbestos, and the commonwealth is providing $7.6 million for lead paint remediation at 40 schools in the city.
“We are thankful to Governor Wolf, Mayor Kenney, Senator Hughes, and all of our elected officials for making this funding available to our schools,” said Dr. William R. Hite, school superintendent. “The health and safety of our students is critical. No matter where they live, our children deserve to learn in vibrant spaces that are welcoming and modernized. We are excited to be able to accelerate our previously planned summer work so that we can make the major renovations and improvements that will best serve our school communities.”
Roosevelt Elementary School is receiving major renovations to classrooms and major systems, including lead paint, mold and asbestos remediation. The goal of the renovation is not only to improve the building systems but also to transform the school, which was originally a middle school, into a modern facility that fits the needs of elementary-age students.
The work will include the modernization of all classrooms serving grades K-2, autistic support and special education classrooms, science and computer labs, art and music rooms and the cafeteria. Hallway lights will be replaced to enhance student experience. The main office and IMC (library) will be relocated, and the school will also receive a new playground. Other renovations will include roof replacement, facade remediation, elevator replacement, fire alarm and security system replacement, and bathroom modernization. The renovations, which are a $7.85 million investment, will be complete in November 2019.
“Today is a great day for the children of Philadelphia. The condition of many of the buildings in our school district is dire and this financial injection comes at the right time to address their needs,” said State Senator Vincent Hughes. “We need to do all we can to rid our schools of health threats, improve conditions and create exceptional learning environments. The more than $15 million investment that begins the cleanup in Philadelphia schools is long overdue and it’s a huge win for our children. This is a great start, but we know there is more work to do in modernizing our schools.”
The work is part of a larger summer operations plan that would provide improvements at 57 schools such as lead paint stabilization, the installation of new HVACs, asbestos abatement, mold removal, and other major renovations.
“Governor Wolf should be commended for stepping up and helping the students of Philadelphia.” said State Rep. Maria P. Donatucci, chairwoman of the Philadelphia House Delegation. “In 2018, no child should be at risk of lead poisoning and no parent should have to worry that their children are at risk when they go to school. With Governor Wolf’s announcement of $7.6 million in state funds for remediation, along with a major investment by the School District of Philadelphia, we not only protect our children and their teachers from the dangers of lead, but we take a step in the right direction to improve the education and lives of the students who live and thrive in the City of Philadelphia.”
Approximately 90 percent of schools in the district were built before 1978, when the federal government banned the residential use of lead-based paint.
“Members of the Philadelphia delegation have been advocating for a closer look at how lead, mold and asbestos are dealt with in our school for several years,” said State Rep. Stephen Kinsey. “We’ve been educating parents on the importance of getting their children tested but, thanks to Governor Wolf, today we’re taking a step further. I’m glad that we were able to secure funding to address this very important health concern.”
“I have been a lead poisoning prevention and awareness advocate for years, but I didn’t think I would ever experience it first-hand,” State Rep. Donna Bullock said. “Several years ago, my youngest son was tested and found to have had lead in his blood. Luckily, it was caught early, and he was able to get treatment. I cannot stress enough the importance of testing our children early. I’m glad to see that we are taking a proactive approach to tackle this epidemic and protect our children.”