Upper Dublin High School in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, and Overbrook High School in Philadelphia are just 15 miles from each other. But they’re worlds apart.
Take the matter of water — that most basic element of human life.
Upper Dublin's new high school, finished in 2012, features an 18-lane swimming pool with two spring-diving boards and a movable bulkhead that allows the pool to be reconfigured for swim meets and water polo matches. The natatorium has its own air-filtration system so the smell of chlorine doesn’t seep into the surrounding hallways or waft into the facility's entryway, with its tasteful mosaic.
At Overbrook — built in the 1920s — there is no pool. The comprehensive high school in West Philadelphia does have water, but it also has water problems. Testing recently revealed six outlets with lead levels above the School District’s safety threshold. A drainage problem in an abandoned room is delaying principal Yvette Jackson's plan to convert the room into a badly needed science lab. The space fell into disrepair because budget cuts lowered the number of science teachers at Overbrook — and thus the number of science labs it could regularly use.
Democratic State Sen. Vincent Hughes, who represents the communities surrounding Upper Dublin and Overbrook, toured both schools Monday to hammer home what he sees as Pennsylvania's funding inequities.
“It breaks my heart,” he said.