For immediate release: Wednesday, November 10, 2021
Contact: Genevieve Greene, 267-207-0871
Philadelphia, PA – In response to public concerns around transparency and conditions of School District of Philadelphia facilities, the Office of the City Controller released an interactive dashboard of asbestos abatement projects in School District buildings. Using data from the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Public Health, the dashboard maps information about construction projects involving asbestos in School District buildings since 2016.
“I recently visited several School District of Philadelphia facilities across our city because I wanted to see the conditions firsthand. At Furness High School in South Philadelphia, for example, I saw students working in classrooms that had plaster chipping and falling off the walls and ceilings, sometimes onto students’ desks. I spoke with teachers who were trying so hard to educate and stay positive in a physical environment that was substandard. This is unacceptable to me, not only as a public school parent, but as someone who cares deeply about Philadelphia and the type of environment we provide our children to learn and grow,” said City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart. “While my office is the financial auditor for the School District of Philadelphia, I do not have the authority to carry out performance audits of the School District, as that falls to the State Auditor General. Still, I wanted to find a way to be a resource and voice when it comes to the conditions of our schools and the need to urgently come up with a plan to fix them.”
For any construction project involving asbestos in Philadelphia, the Department of Public Health requires a notification form to be submitted by the property owner. The City’s Air Management Services team makes the information from these forms available to the public through its online portal. The Controller’s Office used this information to create the dashboard, extracting data for school buildings and mapping the projects across the city. The data on asbestos projects will be updated automatically each day. The dashboard includes several filters, allowing users to view projects for a specific school or during a desired time range.
The dashboard includes:
- School names, locations and grade levels;
- The type of asbestos work being performed; and
- Application date and planned completion date.
The dashboard relies on data from the notification forms, and as such the “Planned Completion Date” reflects the anticipated completion date from the form, rather than actual completion date. Furthermore, the “Description” noted in the raw data reflects the descriptions listed on the notification form and may not sufficiently represent the entirety of asbestos identification and removal work done.