12 vacant District properties are for sale; no budget relief yet
by Oscar Wang
Beyond some hotly debated school closures, the School District is proceeding with other components of its facilities master plan. It hopes to gain revenue from the sale of school buildings that could help with its looming budget shortfall.
However, it is unlikely that what Chief Recovery Officer Thomas Knudsen has called "the monetization of assets" will happen in time to help close the remaining budget gap in the current fiscal year.
In mid-February, 12 school properties were put up for sale, with total asking prices of $15.5 million. Most notably, the former site of West Philadelphia High has a $6.5 million price tag.
The District has adopted an "Adaptive Reuse" policy to guide the fate of surplus properties. A team of District staff, city representatives, and local residents is tasked with evaluating buildings and putting out recommendations for possible future use.
However, as of mid-March, bidding had not formally begun on any of the buildings, and the fiscal year ends on June 30. The District is still in the process of vetting potential buyers for each individual site, according to Deputy for Strategic Initiatives Danielle Floyd.
Floyd said that there has been no date identified for either a second round of closing proposals or the property sales, citing the ongoing administrative reorganization of the District as a major factor in the timing.
Several city and school leaders have said this year's round of proposed closings did not go far enough to rid the District of excess buildings. Recommendations for nine proposed school closings and the relocation of another school were made in November. After a series of 21 community meetings for feedback, public hearings were held in early March. The School Reform Commission is due to vote on the recommendations March 29.