PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Local leaders and parents of children who attend Philadelphia schools closed due to asbestos are taking their fight to the governor’s office. The group is calling for more state funding to protect the students.
Rishawn Reynolds has found herself doing double-duty lately, acting as a mom and school teacher after asbestos forced her daughter Tiffany’s school, Carnell Elementary, to close last month.
“She’s bored, she’s restless. I am creating lesson plans, giving her things to do. She has tutoring three nights a week, but she needs to be in a classroom learning,” Reynolds said.
On Wednesday, Reynolds joined a group of parents, teachers, and lawmakers outside Carnell Elementary in Oxford Circle to ask Gov. Tom Wolf to prioritize updating Philly schools in this year’s budget.
Lawmakers are calling the asbestos issue a crisis that needs immediate action.
“There are dollars available,” state Sen. Vincent Hughes said. “We’ve identified various funds in Harrisburg. Let’s move. This is a state of emergency. The governor has emergency capacity to get some stuff done. We need him to step up. He has stepped up before and we need to make sure he steps up again.”
Carnell is just one of six Philadelphia schools that have been forced to close this school year alone because of asbestos concerns.
McClure Elementary in Hunting Park and Carnell are still closed after the district missed a self-imposed deadline last week.
The doors at Carnell have been closed since before the holiday. The school is expected to open to students come Monday, but parents are just hoping they “do what they say they’re going to do and be transparent,” Reynolds said.
Meantime, the school district has said it is working toward fully implementing a new environmental improvement plan, including inspecting every school, retraining staff on spotting issues, and establishing a reporting system for when problems arise.