AllentownSchool District

Governor Wolf Visits Hiram Dodd Elementary School to Outline Plan to Restore Critical Pennsylvania Infrastructure

Governor Wolf Visits Hiram Dodd Elementary School to Outline Plan to Restore Critical Pennsylvania Infrastructure
Posted on 04/11/2019
The Allentown School District hosted Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf on April 11, 2019 at Hiram Dodd Elementary.  Governor Wolf came to Allentown as part of his Restore Pennsylvania tour, highlighting the challenges communities face in maintaining aging buildings in both rural and urban areas. Out of the multitude of infrastructure deficiencies identified, Restore PA pledges to help schools remove or remediate potential contaminants that are common in older buildings. 

The Allentown School District was contacted by the Governor’s office regarding the status of our facilities with a desire to see first-hand the environment in which our children learn. Within our Strategic Framework, introduced more than a year and half ago, the District identified critical building deficiencies across all ASD elementary and secondary buildings. The Framework also outlines cultivation of a culture in which all students feel safe, valued and nurtured. 

The Governor joined Superintendent Parker and Dodd Principal Kate Griffin on a tour of the school discussing challenges faced by a large, growing urban district. They were joined on the tour by local state representatives Peter Schweyer and Mike Schlossberg, Mayor Ray O’Connell, Lehigh County Executive Phil Armstrong, members of the ASD Board of Directors, a representative for  Congresswoman Susan Wild, other district administrators and community partners. 

The group visited three classrooms, flanked by media, to view the physical state of the building, but also enjoyed interacting with students who were finishing up their day. In many rooms, teachers have creatively decorated their space to conceal areas that are safely contained but may need repair or remediation. Highlighting the importance of fixing these issues was life skills teacher Elizabeth Cameron who previously worked in another school district where staff was cut, due to the excessive cost associated with removing lead-based paints.  The tour also highlighted classrooms that have benefited from the district’s remediation efforts and Dodd’s multiyear window replacement project. 

“The Allentown School District has 19 buildings that were built before 1950. In districts like ours, investing in repairing and updating buildings is critical. The District has invested more than $21.4 million in addressing these issues in the past five years,” said Allentown School District Superintendent Thomas Parker. “Additionally, we are building a new facility to ensure that our students are in the best learning environments, while working to manage constraints in our resources.  Receiving extra funds to support building concerns is significant. We applaud Governor Wolf’s efforts to provide additional funding to update aging facilities in districts like ours.”  

Restore PA is a major new infrastructure initiative designed to invest $4.5 billion over the next four-years in significant, high-impact projects throughout the commonwealth and includes expanded efforts to remove lead and other contaminants from schools and communities.

“Pennsylvania has many older schools with lead paint and other contaminants,” said Governor Wolf. “I commend Allentown and other communities for working on this problem, but we must do more.”

About Allentown Area School District
The Allentown School District serves nearly 17,000 students in a network of 25 early childhood, elementary, middle and high schools throughout the city of Allentown, PA. The Allentown School District is the third largest urban school district out of 500 districts in the Commonwealth. The District’s Mission states that each and every student will graduate college and career ready by having their individual needs met through active engagement in a rigorous, safe and nurturing learning environment. Our core values reflect a commitment to excellence, partnership, and equity.  The Allentown School District employs approximately 2,400 teachers, staff and administrators. Founded in 1866, ASD serves students from 51 countries speaking 26 languages with nearly 90 percent household qualifying as low income.

Full Press Conference