Asbestos means no classes until at least Thursday at 2 Philadelphia schools

SPRING GARDEN — One construction issue at Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin High School and Science Leadership Academy delayed the start of the school year, and another has meant no classes in session at the joint campus since Thursday, Sept. 26.

The School District of Philadelphia announced,

“The Ben Franklin-SLA Campus will remain closed at this time.”

According to Dr. William Hite, superintendent,

“It is clear that we significantly underestimated the challenge of maintaining a safe and healthy school environment for students and staff while also continuing major construction on multiple floors during the school day.”

The problem was damaged insulation material discovered Sept. 25 on ductwork in the boiler room. It was found to contain asbestos. Since then, several tests have been conducted.

asbestos (Wikipedia file)

Dr. Hite announced,

“There will be no return to the Ben Franklin-SLA Campus until construction is at a point where the School District in consultation with the PFT (Philadelphia Federation of Teachers) agree that is appropriate to return.”


“Until then, each school will be relocated to an appropriate academic site no later than Thursday, Oct. 10, so that teaching and learning can resume without further interruption.”

Furthermore, town hall meetings will be held to discuss relocation options for each school. Both will be held Monday in the auditorium at the school district’s headquarters, 440 N. Broad Street. Ben Franklin’s will start at 9am and SLA’s will start at 5:30pm.

Students at both schools missed the first two days of the year due to elevator problems.

Then, all district students got Sept. 27 off for professional development, and Sept. 30 for the first day of Rosh Hashanah. Schools will again be closed Wednesday, Oct. 9, for Yom Kippur.


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