Governor Wolf, Philadelphia Officials Announce $15.6 Million to Improve Conditions at City Schools

June 29, 2018

Harrisburg, PA – Today, Governor Tom Wolf was joined by Mayor Jim Kenney, members of Philadelphia’s legislative delegation and Philadelphia School District leaders to announce $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 commonwealth is providing $7.6 million for lead paint remediation at 40 schools in the city, and the school district is investing $8 million to remove lead paint, mold and asbestos. In total, improvements will be made to 57 schools.

“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 Senator Vince 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 of toxic conditions 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 governor and local leaders made the announcement during a news conference at Roosevelt Elementary School, which will undergo lead paint, mold and asbestos remediation.

“Governor Wolf should be commended for stepping up and helping the students of Philadelphia.” said 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. Lead from paint, including lead-contaminated dust, is one of the most common causes of lead poisoning.

“Members of the Philadelphia delegation has been advocating for a closer look at how lead, mold and asbestos is dealt with in our school for several years,” said 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,” 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.”

“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, 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.”

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