One by one, the dignitaries trooped into the computer lab at Overbrook High School - a room full of dusty desktops at least a decade old that await replacement.

Earlier, they had peered inside two nonfunctioning science labs, where trash sat inside lab sinks and water issues were common.

The Monday tour of Overbrook, a once-grand structure known as "the Castle on the Hill," was meant to give lawmakers who will distribute school-facilities money in Pennsylvania a grounding in just how vast the Philadelphia School District's capital needs are.

It would cost $5 billion to fully meet city schools' repair needs, officials told the state senators, representatives, and other members of the state PlanCon Advisory Committee who gathered at Overbrook on Monday to hear testimony and ask questions.

Just one-third of district schools are considered in good condition, said Fran Burns, the district's chief operating officer.

The average city school is 70 years old, and the district is coping with years of deferred maintenance.

"We've got a lot of work to do," said Danielle Floyd, the schools' director of capital programs.

Responding to a question from Pennsylvania Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera, Floyd told the committee that Philadelphia often does not meet requirements for reimbursement from PlanCon, the state's process for chipping in for a portion of the cost of districts' construction and reconstruction projects.

To get state help, projects must now address educational programs; Philadelphia spends the vast majority of its facilities money replacing aging roofs and boilers, and addressing emerging health and safety needs.

"Very rarely, unfortunately," Floyd said, "are we able to get into classrooms to do that needed work."

State Sen. Vincent Hughes (D., Phila.), who organized the Overbrook tour and one earlier in the day of Upper Dublin High School, a $119 million new school also in his district, said he hoped the striking differences were not lost on the committee.

Upper Dublin has two theaters, a pool, and a water polo team. It has a spacious library where sun streams in and students have free access to the latest technology.

Entire parts of the Overbrook building are unusable. It has no librarian, and its technology is badly dated.

"I don't want to sugarcoat the stark differences that exist between what's being offered to the children here," Hughes said. "I just want us to be clear as we proceed down this path."

After asking about Overbrook's enrollment - it has about 600 students, down from thousands at its peak - Rep. William Adolph (R., Delaware) asked whether the district had considered consolidating high schools.

"Instead of trying to maintain three high schools within five miles of each other, why wouldn't you just build a bigger state-of-the-art high school for all students in West Philadelphia and Southwest Philadelphia?" Adolph asked.

Floyd pointed out that the district has closed dozens of schools over the last several years, and that the district has moved toward smaller high schools.

But, she said, "there's a potential we may have to consolidate more. It's certainly not off the table."

Union officials told the committee that the state's investment is necessary.

Ernie Bennett of SEIU 32BJ, the union that represents the district's blue-collar workers, invoked the name of a late colleague to urge the state to do more.

Christopher Trakimas, a veteran mechanic, died of injuries suffered in a boiler explosion at F.S. Edmonds Elementary in January. Cutbacks meant that Trakimas was doing a tricky job previously performed by two workers when the accident happened.

"It is my sincere hope that we can avoid such catastrophes in the future," Bennett said. "We should invest and reinvest in our public schools, our children and our future."

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