by Sue Ann Rybak
John Story Jenks Elementary School, recently renamed Jenks Academy for the Arts and Sciences, 8301 Germantown Ave. in Chestnut Hill, was listed as one of 20 Philadelphia Schools with hazardous conditions in a report released July 1 by City Controller Alan Butkovitz.
All of the schools selected for inspection contained more than one unsafe condition. Every school visited, except the newly constructed Samuel S. Fels High School, 5500 Langdon St. in Lawncrest, had evidence of water damage, including mold and flooded mechanical rooms.
Forty five percent of the schools inspected, including Jenks, had damaged insulation on pipes, which can be a serious health hazard if particles are released into the air. The report also stated that Jenks had a damaged air duct that was held together with duct tape.
Butkovitz said even though the school district is “financially strained,” it needs to develop a detailed plan to fix these issues. He added many of them can be easily and inexpensively fixed by the school maintenance staff.
“The School District needs to provide a safe, sanitary learning environment for everyone, including our great teachers who must endure these conditions daily,” Butkovitz said in a press release. “The longer these low-cost items go unattended, the more severe and costly they will become.”
Investigators from the City Controller’s Office visited the 20 schools, which included Central High School, Cooke-Wissahickon Elementary School and Jenks from November 2014 through March 2015.
Central High School, 1700 W. Olney Ave., had several hazardous conditions, including leaking water pipe in the broiler room, walls rotting due to leaking from windows, exposed wires, holes in the ground up to three feet deep and other exterior tripping hazards, broken toilet in the second floor girls restroom, holes in the wall, cockroaches in the bathroom and many others.
Hazardous conditions at Cooke-Wissahickon Elementary School, 201 E. Salaignac St. in Roxborough, included missing ground fault control interrupters (GFCI) outlets near water sources, mold on bathroom ceiling tiles due to water damage, several large masonry defects on the exterior of the school with exposed rebar and cracking in the ceiling.