Report: Vacant Philly schools a hazard

The former Roberto Clemente Middle School is dangerous and should be demolished immediately, the City Controller found. (Photo: City Controller's Office)

Left to languish, some Philadelphia School District buildings have become dangerous neighborhood eyesores, a review of vacant school properties found.

In the review released this morning, City Controller Alan Butkovitz found that two schools are “drug havens” with “extremely unsanitary conditions,” including used syringes, needle caps, human waste and piles of garbage.  Drug parapharnelia was found at the Rudolph Walton School, 2601 N. 28th Street, and the Simon Muhr School, 12th and Allegheny.

Three schools have become “locations for crime” with robbery, theft, drug possession and assault occurring on site.

There were serious structural problems at three schools, including exposed rebar, broken and falling cement and cracks along brick walls.  Butkovitz recommended immediate demolition of one school - the former Roberto Clemente Middle School at 3921 N. 5th Street.

"These are all catastrophes waiting to happen," Butkovitz said at a news conference Thursday.

In the coming years, the district will have more vacant buildings to deal with, as the School Reform Commission plans to decide on school closings in the coming months.  Nine schools have been recommended for closure.

Thousands of buildings around the city are vacant, but Butkovitz said these schools deserve special attention because of their size and their former role as hubs in the community.

Butkovitz said he had not shared the report with the district.  A spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

View the report here.

Continue Reading