Students displaced by asbestos discovery head back to class at relocation sites

Students and faculty displaced by an asbestos discovery at two Center City schools will head back to class Monday at nearby relocation sites.

Philadelphia Superintendent Dr. William Hite announced last week that students from Benjamin Franklin High School will resume their school year at Khepera Charter School on the 900 block of West Sedgley Street.

Meanwhile, Science Leadership Academy (SLA) students will continue to attend class at a district building on the 400 block of North Broad Street. In the near future, the Philadelphia School District says some SLA students will have classes at nearby Rodeph Shalom once an agreement is reached between both sides.

"While a signed agreement is not yet concluded, if feasible, there is a mutual desire to temporarily house a portion of the students of the Science Leadership Academy at Congregation Rodeph Shalom," a joint agreement read. "We are working through open issues while concurrently addressing the needs of the Rodeph Shalom community including the Buerger Early Learning Center families as well as the SLA."

Students from the Benjamin Franklin and SLA were forced to evacuate their shared building after workers discovered asbestos while working on a $37 million reconstruction project. 

The new locations were selected by a district appointed task force made up of teachers, staff, students parents and principles. Superintendent Hite said the locations meet capacity and logistics standards that both schools required.

Hite went on to say that the building will not reopen until the asbestos is cleared, a healthy environment is maintained and the reconstruction project is complete. Hite estimates the reopening of Benjamin Franklin and SLA will be sometime after winter break.

The latest asbestos test results from inside the school have been positive, according to Hite.