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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: February 8, 2023 02:07 PM
From: Representative Elizabeth Fiedler and Rep. Robert E. Merski, Rep. Bridget M. Kosierowski
To: All House members
Subject: RACP for Schools
Across Pennsylvania, students' learning conditions are teachers' working conditions. Whether the school is in Erie, Scranton or Philadelphia, all students and educators across Pennsylvania need safe, healthy public buildings where they can learn and teach every day. To that end, we plan to introduce legislation to use our existing Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) to help remediate toxic or unsafe conditions in public school buildings throughout the Commonwealth. 

This legislation would make changes to the RACP program to make it easier for public school entities to apply. While schools can, at times, receive a RACP currently, the existing structure is not conducive for their applications even though the public good and the need are both great.
The prevalence of lead, asbestos, radon and other hazardous materials in our schools has a serious short-term and long-term impact on students, staff and families — affecting everything from physical health and safety to their academic achievement. For teachers and staff, unsafe working conditions present daily challenges to do their jobs well, as well as devastating lifelong health implications. 

Most Pennsylvania public school buildings were built between 1950 and 1959. More than 200 school buildings in the Commonwealth were built before 1950, making Pennsylvania’s public school buildings some of the oldest in the nation. The materials and systems within the buildings continue to be outdated, inefficient and, in many cases, unsafe. That means lead in the drinking water; asbestos in cracked floor tiles; mold outbreaks in classrooms; broken boilers in the winter; and no air conditioning in the summer.

Numerous media reports in recent years have highlighted these toxic and hazardous conditions in some of Philadelphia’s public schools. But these problems are not unique to Philadelphia. Erie, Scranton, Allentown, Pittsburgh and many other cities, towns and rural districts across Pennsylvania have struggled with asbestos, lead and other toxins in their public school buildings. In addition to ensuring we have healthy and safe school environments, investment in public school infrastructure creates high paying jobs in our communities. 

Please join us in investing in our schools by cosponsoring this legislation.