PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - The School District of Philadelphia gets plenty of criticism from the news media in this city. Low test scores, classroom violence, constant budget crises – it's one horrendous headline after another.
In fairness, some of the problems are beyond the district's control, FOX 29's Bruce Gordon says.
Many of its students come from impoverished, single parent homes where food and clothing isn't even guaranteed, much less help with homework.
And Harrisburg isn't always as supportive as it could be.
But some things are just, pardon the expression, "no-brainers."
School district facilities ought to be shining examples of professionalism. They ought to be the best of neighbors in their communities.
So, what to make of the vehicle fleet operation on the 2500 block of Tasker Street in Grays Ferry?
The sprawling property borders what just might be THE trashiest block in all of Filth-adelphia.
When we visited, the 1600 block of South Bambrey Street was literally impassable. It's blocked by piles of trash and construction debris, including bricks and bags of cement illegally dumped, likely by fly-by-night contractors.
We learned from the Streets Department that this block was removed from the City Plan back in 1971 and is, in fact, the school district's responsibility.
The district building is covered with graffiti and lining Bambrey was a graveyard of beat-up and vandalized district vans.
What was the district doing to maintain its own property? Not much.
The illegally dumped trash had – based on dates on stacks of undelivered newspapers – been there for weeks and weeks.
We saw at least three security cameras mounted on the school district building, but with no indication the cameras worked or were monitored.
Either way, they were doing nothing to stop the dumping.
Oh, and one other thing: the signs warning that those cameras were watching spelled the word surveillance S-U-R-V-A-I-L-A-N-C-E.
That's right, the school district signs misspelled the word surveillance. Badly.
When we began reporting on the mess, district crews raced out onto Bambrey and pushed the small piles of garbage into one big mountain.
Later, the streets department came and removed the junk as a courtesy.
Bambrey is, once again, drivable.
Gordon reached out to the school district for an explanation as to why they had allowed this dumping to get so out-of-control, and how they failed to notice their own misspelled signs. There was no response by our deadline.
Here's the thing, Gordon says: no one expects our city schools to be perfect. They've got a difficult job to do.
But can we at least expect their facilities won't add to the blight of our neighborhoods?
And can we hope they know the difference between "surveillance" and "survailance?" If you haven't learned how to take care of your property, at least learn how to spell, Gordon said.