“This is not just a Philadelphia problem. This is a statewide problem that needs both short-term assistance and long-term assistance,” said state Sen. Vincent Hughes.
Hughes and other local leaders sent a letter to their colleagues and Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday, demanding more funding and assistance to help fix the schools.
A half-dozen schools in the School District of Philadelphia have had to close their doors at some point this school year because of asbestos.
Students, parents, teachers and advocates rallied in front of Laura H. Carnell Elementary School on Wednesday alongside other state senators, City Council members and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. Carnell is one of the schools that most recently halted classes due to asbestos abatement.
“We're all in unity to get increased assistance, increased support, increased help — especially from the state level — to address this growing problem, that really needs emergency attention now,” Hughes continued. “We cannot mandate that our children attend school 180 days of the year, which is a state law, but have them go to school in toxic buildings.”
Hughes said there are hundreds of millions of dollars in the state's rainy day fund, and some of it should be invested in the schools.
“If we just chose to accept conditions as they are and not speak up, and not get fully engaged publicly, then things will just stay as they are.”