To be awarded in annual installments of $10 million, the largest private contribution ever to the district will be used to remediate environmental hazards, including asbestos and lead, in public school buildings. Since 2018, the district has fully stabilized lead paint in fifty-four elementary schools, completed work to certify an additional twenty-five schools as Lead Safe, and invested more than $23 million to complete asbestos-related projects. It also announced an Environmental Safety Improvement Plan outlining new safety and inspection measures last November, and approved an allocation of $41 million in January for asbestos testing and abatement, project management, and other remediation resources. The district currently has an estimated $4.5 billion in unmet capital needs.
"Every student in Philadelphia deserves the dignity of a safe and welcoming school building," said school board president Joyce Wilkerson. "This tremendous gift will not only help us to ensure these safe spaces for every student, it will free us to direct our focus to investing in a new and compelling vision for school facilities. I thank the University of Pennsylvania for this incredible gift, which is an investment in all of our city's children."
"Nothing is more important than the health and welfare of our children, and few things are more crucial to a community than the safety and quality of its public schools," said University of Pennsylvania president Amy Gutmann. "When Philadelphia's schools and school children succeed, all Philadelphia succeeds. We are proud to be able to partner with our city and school district to significantly improve the learning environment for Philadelphia's school children in a way that will have a long-lasting impact on the health, safety, and well-being of our entire city."
(Photo credit: School District of Philadelphia)