PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Students, parents and teachers rallied in Harrisburg less than one day after another Philadelphia school was forced to close when high levels of asbestos were found inside. Franklin Learning Center is the fifth school that had to close this year, but more help may be on the way.
While students and parents were at the Pennsylvania State Capitol, lawmakers said they would push for $125 million in emergency funding to remediate asbestos in their schools.
Philadelphia students, parents, and teachers boarded buses Wednesday morning to demand money for asbestos and lead paint removal from their schools.
“Without major state investment, those problems aren’t going to go away,” organizer David Loeb said.
Their demands were partly answered as state Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler, a Democrat serving Philadelphia County, said she would introduce legislation for emergency funding. She’s calling for $125 million so schools can make environmental repairs.
“Make no mistake that the conditions that our students and educators and staff face right now is a public health emergency,” Fiedler said.
If it passes, Philadelphia schools will be eligible for $85 million in state grants for repairs.
Tamitra Foreman has a 10-year-old daughter who attends Thomas M. Peirce Elementary School in North Philadelphia. The Philadelphia School District closed the school earlier this school year after high levels of asbestos was found. She applauded the students and teachers who went to Harrisburg for standing up for themselves.
“We have to play our part as a community. We have to play our part and we have to speak up. If not, who’s going to speak up for us?” Foreman said.
The school district said they’re updating their environmental safety improvement plan and it should be available within the next few days.