Philadelphia teachers, officials press Pa. legislature on funding for school building improvements

Philadelphia teachers are once again calling on Pennsylvania lawmakers to do something to help fix, repair and update aging buildings in the district. Legislation is working its way through the house, but teachers say funding is needed now.

Earlier in the week, two key pieces of legislation made it out of the Pennsylvania House Education Committee aimed at investing in school improvements.

State Representative Elizabeth Fielder led a press conference Friday at South Philadelphia High School highlighting the bill.

"You can’t learn when you’re sweating to death, you can’t learn when you’re worried about eating," Philadelphia City Councilmember Mark Squilla stated.

The bill would fund the already existing maintenance grant program and allow schools to apply to the Commonwealth Financing Authority for a maintenance grant for 75 percent of a project’s cost, up to $5 million.

"The message is clear," Fiedler said. "Investing in school infrastructure means investing in students and families and in the future of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania."

"There is no new schools. The last school, I believe, that was actually done is Lincoln High School. We’re repairing high schools," South Philadelphia High School teacher, William Sax, said.

Ana Tapia is an after-school teacher at South Philly. Her students constantly voice to her how uncomfortable they are, even asking for personal hygiene products.

"We try to make it work. Windows open all the time, fans blaring. We make sure to have some deodorant and water, just so they feel comfortable in their sweat," Tapia explained.

The superintendent says the lack of funding is the main issue in new schools.