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Frankford High School set to reopen in 2025-26 school year following asbestos concerns

Frankford High School expected to reopen in fall 2025 following 2023 closure for asbestos concerns
Frankford High School expected to reopen in fall 2025 following 2023 closure for asbestos concerns 00:33

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Plans to reopen Frankford High School in Northeast Philadelphia are underway as the School District of Philadelphia gave updates on Tuesday about the 2025-2026 school year project.

The main part of the 108-year-old building has been closed since April 2023 because of asbestos damage.

There is a $19.9 million investment for the reopening plan that will address environmental concerns and refresh the main portion of the school from the ground to the fourth floor, according to the release. The asbestos abatement work, which officials said includes repairing, removing, and enclosing, will be done when no students and staff are in the building during the summer or after school hours.

Officials said students from grades 10-12 are learning in the D-wing of the school which is sealed off from the main portion while ninth graders are learning at Roberto Clemente Middle School in North Philadelphia. The D-wing of the school will continue to be isolated from the main building during construction as the learning plan continues through the next school year.

The reopening plan includes:

  • Removal of plaster ceiling in corridor and classrooms

  • Enclosure of asbestos materials, including installing laminate panels over plaster walls in corridors and classrooms. Unlike sheetrock, this material is easy to clean, and resistant to damage and was used in the District's newest school, TM Peirce.

  • Removal of vinyl asbestos tile floor tile in the basement

The project started with imagining the school to take pictures and document all the spaces.

"Frankford has been an important and historic center for learning for more than a century in Philadelphia, and we are confident this investment will enable us to safely reopen the building to students and staff," Chief Operating Officer Oz Hill said in the release. "We are grateful for the patience and cooperation of the Frankford community and are working cooperatively with school leadership and meeting every quarter to provide updates on our progress."

The district said once the asbestos work is done, there will be new ceilings in classrooms and hallways with LED energy-efficient lights, new vinyl tile flooring will replace the cafeteria tiles and the existing wood floors will be refinished.

Much work will continue after the reopening project such as the priority of replacing the HVAC system, which officials said couldn't be included in the project due to funding.

"Though much of the asbestos-containing materials in Frankford will be removed or enclosed during this project, some asbestos-containing material will remain in the building. The presence of asbestos itself is not a health hazard; it is when it becomes airborne that it can be a concern. Frankford will undergo twice-yearly inspections to check on the condition of asbestos materials so they can be maintained in good condition," the district said in the release.

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