Senator Vincent Hughes announced his plan to invest $125 million in state funds to make critical repairs to Philadelphia’s school buildings, with additional funds for schools across the commonwealth. The senator was joined by union leaders, state legislators and city council members who comprise the Fund Our Facilities Coalition Wednesday at Richard Wright Elementary School as he announced the bold proposal.
The dollar amount in Hughes’ companion bills–SB 555 and SB 556–represent exactly half of the $170 million the coalition has said is needed to address immediate health and safety concerns, and to ensure every Philly school building is safe, clean and healthy.
Funding for SB 555 would come in the form of a $125 million grant from several Commonwealth special funds with outstanding balances. SB 556 calls for a $125 million grant that would be funded from the current state budget surplus. With each bill, Hughes proposes directing $85 million to the School District of Philadelphia; $30 million to 134 school districts throughout the state with a significant number of students experiencing poverty; and $10 million to the remaining public schools in the state.
“We are in a position to fix a critical structural need and we cannot afford to lose this opportunity to provide thousands of teachers, students and school staffers with a healthy, safe environment each day,” Senator Hughes said. “The investments I am proposing would help fund the critical maintenance and repair and provide those conditions. We must act now and repair the unhealthy and unsafe conditions for the future of our students and our education system.”