Report: Dangerous conditions at Philly schools

May 15, 2008 7:56:32 AM PDT
A report from the City Controller's office says some public schools have health and safety violations so severe that students' lives are in danger. The information comes after a second review by the Controller's Office; the first was conducted in 2006 and after the more recent follow-up, officials found some of the same problems and extremely poor conditions.

During its current review, the Controller's Office inspected 19 schools; two of them were inspected back in 2006.

McDaniel Elementary still has leaks on the third floor, according to the report, and fire exit stairs used for storage, creating a danger to students and teachers.

Other safety hazards found at city schools include broken windows, electrical cords in walking areas, and filthy bathrooms.

Mayer Sulzberger Middle School in West Philadelphia is deemed one of the worst buildings.

The roof was found to have numerous leaks, asbestos insulation was found in the boiler, air handler, and floor tiles.

A section of fence is missing at the rear of the school, exposing children to a slope & retaining wall.

But Jim Lewis, the district's VP of Facilities & Operations says Phila. Schls are safe:.

The school district is facing an estimated $39 million deficit, but the Controller's Office suggests it utilize a portion of the remaining $500 million dollars from the capital bond borrowing program to repair existing schools.

Lewis of the Philadelphia School District says that is impossible.

Alan Butkovitz of the Controller's office acknowledges that many of the repairs are costly, but says a number of violations can be corrected with little or no cost, like uncharged fire-extinguishers and padlocked fire exit doors:

L & I reports for nearly all the 19 schools inspected, shows they were previously cited for fire code and property maintenance violations but Butkovitz claims L & I granted conditional approvals allowing the schools to stay open and thus, pro-long their repairs.

Licenses and Inspections says that is not true and that it takes the matter of school safety very seriously.