Union leaders, lawmakers join to find money to repair Philly school buildings

Mike DeNardo
March 29, 2019 - 2:08 pm
AFT President Randi Weingarten and PFT President Jerry Jordan

Mike DeNardo/KYW Newsradio

Categories: 

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A coalition of union leaders and lawmakers is forming to raise money to address conditions inside Philadelphia's aging school buildings.

"How do you allow a child to be in a building with a roof that is leaking, or walls that are crumbling?" American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten said.

Weingarten joined Philadelphia councilmembers and state legislators outside 130-year-old Francis Scott Key Elementary School, the oldest school in the district. The group announced a coalition they call "Fund Our Facilities," which has a goal of finding $170 million to pay for more school cleaning staff, exterminators, fixing water leaks, removing lead paint, upgrading electrical and lighting systems and repairing bathrooms.

Related:

Pa. Sen. Vincent Hughes says the need is urgent.

"No child can learn if they have to go to school — no teacher can teach if they have to be in a school — where there's lead, there's asbestos, there's infestation. It's not right," Hughes said.

The group plans to seek the money from local, state and federal sources, but they didn't have a specific strategy. 

Councilwoman Helen Gym said one thing is clear: "This work needs cash. This is not charity. This is not finding a little bit of change as the extras in our budget session. This takes real hard cash."

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers Health and Welfare Fund came up withthe $170 million figure after analyzing conditions in school buildings.