January 27, 2017
The facilities within the School District of Philadelphia need a slew of expensive repairs.
About $4.5 billion in repairs are needed across the district, according to comprehensive report that found more than 12,000 outstanding repairs.
Some buildings, of course, are in worse shape than others. After all, the average building is about 70 years old.
The Facility Condition Assessment, released Friday, breaks the district's buildings into five tiers based upon the severity of repairs needed. There are 12 active schools listed in the most urgent classification, in which the total repair costs needed are greater than 60 percent of the building's replacement value.
There are also nine facilities, including athletic field houses and unused buildings, in the most severe category.
Such facilities should be considered for closing or replacement, the report concludes. But district spokesman Lee Whack cautioned that the report should not be read as a listing of potential school closings.
"This is not a school closure document," Whack said. "We aren't stating that anything that we've found is unsafe or a hazard to student health. What we are saying is these are different items of differed maintenance. We are prioritizing going forward what we need to replace most immediately."
For instance, Dunbar Elementary School, located near Temple University, is among the facilities in need of the most maintenance. But the district intends to spend $1.7 million to replace the roof this summer, which will move the school into a less urgent tier.
Similarly, Cramp Elementary School in North Philadelphia will drop into the middle tier once the district upgrades its electrical system and installs a new heating and cooling system.
Still, those repairs will costs millions of dollars. And there are thousands of repairs to be completed.
The report, completed by Parsons Environment and Infrastructure Group over nearly two years, found that only 87 of the district's 308 educational and athletic facilities are considered in a good state of repair. That's only 28 percent.
Another 106 facilities fall outside a funding range considered sustainable. But while many buildings need repairs, just 23 buildings account for nearly 25 percent of its total repair costs.
District officials say they will need to spend some $3 billion over the next 10 years to keep up with the repairs.
The most common needs are in heating and cooling distribution, temperature control and electrical service upgrades. Essentially, the building structures are sound, but their interiors need work.
The facilities assessment provides a detailed breakdown of the repairs needed in each district building. The report is intended to help district officials prioritize a bevy of maintenance work that will take place in the coming years.
"This is a significant step in a larger effort that will directly inform our five-year capital program, and brings the discussion of infrastructure to the forefront in a credible way," Chief Operating Officer Fran Burns said in a statement. "If greater funding is attained, the school district is ready to use those funds to modernize and improve our school buildings."
The district's buildings, which total more than 26 million-square-feet, serve about 140,000 students.
"Every child should have access to a safe, healthy and welcoming school facility that supports teaching and learning opportunities," Superintendent William R. Hite said in a statement. "The Facility Condition Assessment empowers us to prioritize capital projects and clearly show our existing and potential public and private partners what our infrastructure needs are and how they can help."
The report, and a breakdown of repairs needed at each school, can be found here.
PhillyVoice's Jon Tuleya contributed to this article