Fix Health and Safety Hazards at McCall Elementary
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We, the parents, teachers, and community members of McCall Elementary School in Philadelphia request urgent attention and transparency regarding poor environmental, health, and safety conditions at our school.
According to the Facility Condition Assessment Summary Report released by the school district in January 2017, McCall was given an FCI rating of 57%, with 60% being the benchmark for building closure or replacement.
We are aware that since the time that the assessment was conducted, that there have been repairs to the electrical system as well as the work that is currently being done on the exterior of the school. Though this work may have taken the percentage down several points, we remain deeply concerned about several outstanding items that may be hazardous to the health and safety of all McCall students and faculty.
1)McCall’s roof is given a 90% FCI, which leads us to believe there may be significant leaks which could affect the interior condition, leading to mold and lead paint deterioration. According to the Capital Budget for 2017-2022, there is no further money earmarked for McCall, including the roof that is listed with an urgent response time of 4-5 years.
2) The FCI of the heating units is currently well over 100% and with good reason. The antiquated unit ventilators are a major concern for both the comfort of students and teachers to be in an environment that is conducive to learning. Some of the rooms are extraordinarily hot during the winter and there is no way to control the room temperature. Furthermore, there is no fresh air able to come through the ventilators in their current condition. We have wildly uncontrolled heating, that beyond discomfort and poor learning conditions can affect the structural safety of the building. High humidity or excessive drying from a heating system like this can impact the deterioration of lead paint and asbestos.
3) The FCI assessment shows clear photographic evidence of mold on the basement walls. We have also heard anecdotal evidence from teachers stating that after black mold was discovered in their classrooms it was simply “painted over.”
4) We have seen firsthand the need for plumbing renovations, with children complaining of constantly overflowed toilets, toilets covered with garbage bags, and poorly working exhaust fans. The bathrooms are in a constant state of maintenance and poor use. The bathrooms closest to the lunchroom, specifically, are nonfunctional and students are not allowed to use them for bathroom purposes and yet the kids are not permitted to walk all the way to the nearest functioning bathrooms alone but no personnel are provided to walk them there, leading to accidents, discomfort, and embarrassment.
5)The school building is not covered by an automatic sprinkler system. The sprinkler issue was labeled a “life hazard” concern with a priority rating of 1, meaning it was supposed to have been fixed in 1-2 years from August 2015, a timeline which they have failed to meet that places our children at risk.
6) The basement floor is not equipped with a hydration station and that floor holds kindergarten classrooms with no access to clean water. Old fountains were shut down (thankfully) after lead testing but have not been replaced.
We understand that there have been various environmental inspections including one in early August but parents, teachers, and other stakeholders have no means to review this information. We understand that more than 40 deficiencies were identified including flaking lead paint, damaged heating system components, and leaking water damage. We have no way of knowing if and when these items will be repaired.
The FCI assessments were a good first step. Unfortunately, it does not allow the stakeholders to see if there has been any prioritizing made for repairing these conditions. What would be helpful is a transparent and publicly available breakdown of what the most critical repairs are across the district and a timeline for each of these repairs. Parents and teachers have no way of knowing the actual hazard from each of these issues. However, we can only assume the worst based on historically terrible conditions that have yielded national attention.
We believe that all Philadelphia public school stakeholders have the right to transparent information and timely answers.
We simply must find a way to make these repairs a financial priority and earmark more money towards these repairs. We want to work with the district and support the district but we need faster responses, transparent information, and accountability from our school district. That is the only way we can repair public education. As parents and teachers, we have chosen to stay and fight for the schools we love and believe in. But the district continues to completely ignore emails from parents or respond after exorbitantly long amounts of time with insufficient answers.
We are here to do any work we can to help with these efforts. We look forward to your response.
Dear Families at McCall and other Philadelphia schools,
Our names are Anna Perng and Mandy Lin. We urge you to sign this petition, which describes the terrible conditions in our public schools.
McCall's roof is falling apart. When it rains, water comes from the ceiling. Our bathrooms are always out of order. In the winter, it gets too hot in the classrooms. The heat can create health problems with lead and asbestos, a cancer-causing substance.
By signing this petition, you are asking our School District to take action to fix problems at McCall and other schools. This is not a criticism of your principals or your teachers. Rather, by signing this petition, you are standing with them and asking for repairs for the safety and health of all.
Anna Perng & Mandy Lin
彭安娜 & 林曼青
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