School District Announces Opportunity to Accelerate and Expand Critical Building Investments
PHILADELPHIA – The School District of Philadelphia has announced a plan to accelerate and expand critical investments within its capital program, which would become reality if Mayor Jim Kenney’s entire school funding proposal for Fiscal Year 2019 is adopted.
“The health and safety of our students is fundamental, and must be a basic expectation when we discuss funding for our schools,” said Dr. William R. Hite, Superintendent. “All students deserve to learn in clean, healthy and inviting schools that provide the opportunities they need to succeed. We are taking every opportunity to use our available resources to prioritize and accelerate building improvements.”
After years of financial challenges, the District would see balanced budgets through 2023 under Mayor Kenney’s budget proposal, instead of a $630 million cumulative deficit. The plan also would allow the District to borrow an additional $150 million in the spring of 2019, which would provide much needed funds for critical building improvements.
“Nothing is more important than our children’s education and well-being,” said Mayor Kenney. “By increasing and sustaining local funding for public education, Philadelphians can support long-needed improvements in our school buildings. My proposed budget will not only help the District build on recent academic progress, but will also enable borrowing to ensure that students are learning in safe, modernized facilities. The District has been forced to delay many capital projects for too long; let’s not wait another year.”
Under the proposal, the District would be able to expand and accelerate lead paint abatement efforts, start planned building improvements sooner, and add additional projects to its five-year capital plan.
The District would accelerate and expand its lead paint abatement program by immediately seeking contractors to remove peeling, crumbling and flaking paint aligned with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Program.
Projects that would be completed earlier than planned would include construction of at least one new school building, in addition to the two already planned.
Capital projects could be added to the District’s capital plan including major renovations at the neediest school buildings (those with a Facility Condition Index score of 60% or higher), bathroom and site renovations to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements, playgrounds at elementary schools, and upgrades to major mechanical and electrical systems moderate temperature and provide comfort.
The District made the announcement at Logan Elementary School, which has a Facility Condition Index score of 62.97 percent.
“The team at Logan School will use the funds to remove peeling paint, install a playground, renovate our bathrooms and upgrade our electrical system,” said Principal Chuanika Sanders. “We are excited to be able to continue to prepare our students to be college and career ready in a new, modernized space.”
“The Mayor’s proposed funding package provides the type of recurring, sustainable revenues that allows the School District to borrow additional capital dollars to invest in our facilities,” said Uri Monson, Chief Financial Officer for the District. “This additional borrowing means we can address more of our critical needs, more quickly.”
In addition to the facility investments, the school funding in the Mayor’s budget proposal would also enable the District to add resources to successful early literacy and college and career readiness programs. For example, the funds would allow the District to eliminate all first and second grade split classrooms, resulting in smaller class sizes; modernize more than 160 classrooms in 11 schools to help improve literacy in pre-K through third grade; expand the 9th Grade Academy model to eight additional high schools; and create new opportunities for students to access Career and Technical Education programs.