Philadelphia School District Follow Up Review of Conditions at School Buildings

Audit Date: July 1, 2015
Audit Categories
  • Investigation
Controller: Alan Butkovitz
Audit Tags
  • Buildings,
  • Children and Families,
  • Education,
  • Infrastructure,
  • Inventory,
  • School District

Executive Summary

For Immediate Release
July 1, 2015

Contact: Brian Dries

Butkovitz Finds Health Risks, Unsafe Conditions Inside Philadelphia’s Schools
City Controller’s report indicates exposed asbestos, electrical hazards & mold

School District of Philadelphia – Building Inspections 2015

PHILADELPHIA – City Controller Alan Butkovitz today released a report on the conditions of Philadelphia’s Public School buildings that uncovered several hazardous conditions at select schools, including exposed asbestos, electrical and fire dangers and water damage.

Of the 20 schools selected for inspection, all contained more than one unsafe condition that the School District of Philadelphia needs to address while students are on summer break. At Francis Scott Key Elementary School, the Controller’s investigators found a pipe containing exposed asbestos in a hallway traveled by students and staff near the lunchroom.

“The presence of improperly encased asbestos material could pose a serious health risk to anyone who comes in contact with it,” said Butkovitz. “The School District needs to have a licensed asbestos abatement professional investigate and remove the potential danger.”

Other findings from the schools inspected included the following:
• 95 percent had water damage, including mold and flooded mechanical rooms
• 75 percent had fire safety hazards, including expired fire extinguishers and blocked fire exits
• 70 percent had electrical hazards, including exposed live wires and an open electrical panel

In addition, there were unsanitary conditions in bathrooms, such as cockroaches at Central High School and urinals that did not drain at Dimner Beeber Middle School. There was a damaged air duct being held together with duct tape at John Story Jenks Elementary.

“We understand the School District is financially strained and there are many funding priorities,” said Butkovitz. “Many of these conditions are low-cost items that could be completed by the school maintenance staff.”

According to Controller Butkovitz, the School District needs to develop a detailed corrective action plan to address the findings presented in the report.

“The School District needs to provide a safe, sanitary learning environment for everyone, including our great teachers who must endure these conditions daily,” said Butkovitz. “The longer these low-cost items go unattended, the more severe and costly they will become.