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The School District of Philadelphia on Jan.26, 2021.

Credit: Gary Lin

Members of the Paul Robeson High School community are calling on the Philadelphia School District to renovate the school.

Parents, staff, and students of Robeson gathered at district headquarters on Tuesday to fight for renovations for the school. Robeson junior Ciani Pagan helped organize a petition indicating their dissatisfaction with the building, which was signed by 250 of the approximately 300 students who attend the school, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The building, which was built in the 1950s, lacks any ventilation besides windows, some of which either don't fully open or are nailed shut. 

The school also cannot accommodate window air-conditioning units in most rooms and cannot provide access to safe drinking water, since the water fountains are often broken and haven't recently been tested for lead.

This comes after a recent analysis of publicly available school district data by PennEnvironment and PennPIRG found that 98% of tested schools had some lead-containing water, according to the Inquirer

Pagan told the Inquirer that the bathrooms are often broken and classrooms are uncomfortably hot. Staff, parents, and teachers have all circulated unanswered petitions.

Oz Hill, Deputy Chief Operating Officer at The School District of Philadelphia, thanked the group for their concern but made no commitments, the Inquirer reported. The group asked Hill to respond to their concerns by March 4.

Penn, a property tax-exempt organization, does not pay Payments in Lieu of Taxes, or financial contributions that such organizations voluntarily make to local governments, which would help support Philadelphia's public schools. Students have been calling on Penn to pay PILOTs for decades, and their protests have been intensified by the Black Lives Matter movement.