Dear Dr. Hite,
On behalf of the organizations signed below, we are writing to ask you to allocate less than ½ of 1%– approximately $2-4 million–of the District’s $1.1 billion in federal stimulus funds to comprehensively address the threat posed by lead in Philadelphia school drinking water, once and for all. This is a critical step that will protect generations of kids from the negative effects of lead exposure.
Since the 2014 Flint, Michigan lead-in-drinking-water crisis, there’s been ongoing public concern about — and attention to — addressing the threat of lead in drinking water. It’s well-proven that lead exposure causes numerous negative health effects, including damage to the nervous system, learning disabilities, and impaired hearing. Lead exposure is unsafe at any level.
Because children spend so much time in school buildings during their prime years of development, lead contamination in school drinking water is particularly dangerous. Recent data shows that 60 percent of all water samples taken from Philadelphia school water outlets had elevated levels of lead.
There is now an opportunity to change course. The recent federal stimulus package signed into law by President Biden offers the chance to help address this threat: this funding package directs $1.1 billion to the School District of Philadelphia, which can allow the District to address long standing issues that were previously difficult to tackle due to fiscal constraints. With just a small portion of the District’s $1.1 billion allocation, the District has the resources to address this threat districtwide.
Given this, the undersigned groups respectfully call on the School District of Philadelphia to announce a district-wide initiative to ensure safe drinking water for all children in the district to:
Allocate $2-4 million of the District’s federal stimulus (ESSER III) funds to replace all remaining drinking water fountains with hydration stations with lead filters by 2024.
Reaffirm the District’s commitment to at least one working outlet per 100 students for both school capacity and actual enrollment for each school building.
Ensure point of use filters certified to remove lead are also installed on any sinks used to prepare food or beverages.
Given the scale and scope of this project, we would ask that the District prioritize replacing old fountains with hydration stations in schools with the highest levels of lead contamination.
Ensuring that water bottle filling stations installed in a public school buildings:
Are regularly cleaned to maintain sanitary conditions;
Are maintained on a regular basis to ensure they function properly;
Regularly train staff on how to maintain filtration systems and educate teachers, students, and staff to recognize when a hydration station indicates that the filter needs to be changed.
Reaffirm the District’s policy to allow and promote having students, teachers, and staff bring and carry approved water bottles into school buildings to utilize hydration stations and promote drinking healthy water.
We look forward to hearing back from you on this important topic, and call on you to take these steps immediately to protect students’ health from the threat of lead in drinking water.
PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center
PennPIRG Education Fund
Pastor Willie Francois
Black Church Center for Justice and Equality
American Heart Association
All In The Family
Bella Vista Neighbors Association
Brewerytown Sharswood Community Civic Association
Bridesburg Community Action Alliance
Cathedral Park CDC
Centennial Parkside CDC
Center City Organized for Responsible Development
Central Roxborough Civic Association
Rev. Chester Williams
Chew & Belfield Neighborhood Club
Chew and Chelten CDC
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Cobbs Creek Neighbors
Conservation Voters of PA
Delaware Riverkeeper Network
Democratic 4th ward
Dickinson Square Civic Association
Empowered CDC Inc.
Families for Houston
Friends of Southwark
Friends of Nebinger
Global Thinking Initiatives Inc
Harrowgate Civic Association
Hispanic Community Counseling Services Administration
The Health, Education and Legal Assistance Project: A Medical-Legal Partnership at Widener University
Henry H. Houston HSA
Ruth I Birchett
Heritage Community Development Corporation
Mary Grace Joyce
Mabel Morris Family Home Visit Program
Mary Grace Joyce
National Nurse-Led Care Consortium
New Kensington CDC
Our City, Our Schools
Overbrook Farms Club
Overbrook West Neighbors
Packer Park Civic
Parents United for Public Education
Philadelphia Crosstown Coalition
Mary Grace Joyce
Philadelphia Nurse-Family Partnership
Point Breeze CDCoalition
Bishop Dwayne Royster
Charles Reeves Jr
Resident Action Committee ll
Dr. Carolina Baltazar Edwards
Snyderville Community Development Corporation
South Street West Business Improvement District, Inc.
Southwest Philadelphia District Services
The Pinnwheel Group Inc.
Veterans Stadium Neighbors
Vietnamese Association For Aging Philadelphia & Suburbs
Viola Street Residents Association
West Chelten neighbors
West Philadelphia Economic Development Council
West Torresdale/Morrell Park Civic Association
Words by Weaver
Youth United for Change
1st Ward Republicans
5th Ward Republican Committee
27th Ward Republican RCO
El Amor Brawne Ali
37th Democratic Ward Executive Committee
39th Ward Republicans
46 Ward Democratic Committee RCO
46th Ward Republicans
51st Ward Republican RCO
53rd republican ward