PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers is calling for an immediate $100 million investment to perform lead and damaged asbestos abatement in Philadelphia's public schools.
"I think it's terrifying that our kids are going to school there and there might health risks to them,” said Alexandra Meer.
On Wednesday, it was Back to School Night at Meredith Elementary School in Queen Village, which was held on a day when the Philadelphia School District and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers are hashing out what to do about asbestos in schools.
"I hope they get it together. How about that?" said Adrian Parker. Her grandson is a fourth-grader at Meredith and has been there since kindergarten. She is concerned about asbestos and even more so after hearing a teacher who taught at this school and at Nebinger has been diagnosed mesothelioma. Officials say they can't know for sure she got it working at the schools.
"It could be your children as well you taking them back and forth to the doctor. You don't know what they have among the common cold," said Parker.
On Wednesday, the PFT and local lawmakers held a news conference demanding $100 million be invested in remediating asbestos and lead in schools.
"There is no other time than now when young people’s lives are on the line and when an educator’s life is on the line," said Councilwoman at Large for Philadelphia City Council Helen Gym.
The school district responded soon after saying remediation is a top priority.
"The district has set aside $422 million for facility improvements and maintenance, of which $20.7 million of that is specifically for asbestos abatement and lead paint repairs and assessments in schools," said Danielle Floyd, COO of the Philadelphia School District.
Meanwhile, parents say it isn't enough.
"It makes me question like can we do remote teaching? Can they stay at home and do work on the computer instead of going into the class? That's terrifying," said Alexander Meer who has three children attending Meredith.
"My experience with the Philadelphia School District is limited but it has been that they are not able to fast track anything so I would be shocked in a pleasant way if they really do handle it quickly," said Regina Colantonio who has a son attending Nebinger.
The PFT cited a district port stating there at 175 schools in the district with asbestos.