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New SLA middle school finds a temporary home

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    Drexel University

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A temporary home for the new West Philadelphia middle school modeled after the highly touted, inquiry-based Science Leadership Academy was announced Wednesday.

The new SLA middle school will open this fall at Drexel University’s Dana and David Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships in Powelton Village. For at least two years, the school will rent a part of the center as it awaits construction of its permanent home at the site of the former University City High School, now owned by Drexel.  

“We’re delighted to host SLA-MS at the Dornsife Center in the coming years,” said Lucy Kerman, vice provost for university and community partnerships at Drexel, which is a partner of both schools. “It is a perfect fit: We can provide beautiful space during the school day and explore community school programming after hours with expanded Dornsife Center offerings.”  

Starting with 90 5th-grade students, the District plans to add a grade each year and serve a total of 360 students. The non-special-admission school will serve students in the Powelton and Mantua neighborhoods.

Startup and planning costs to open the new school, for which nearby Samuel Powel Elementary will be a feeder school, is supported by a $1.8 million grant from Philadelphia School Partnership. The grant also helps add 150 more students to Powel, which will move with SLA-MS into the new University City site.  

“This grant is important for PSP because we are helping 500 students to receive a quality education like SLA and Powel are providing to students,” said Kristen Forbriger, PSP’s director of public affairs.  

The school’s founding principal, Timothy Boyle, was enthusiastic about the school’s potential.

“The new school will marry the successful educational approach of Powel Elementary with the innovative model used by Science Leadership Academy. Our plan is to develop a school that’s specifically created to serve the needs of future SLA-MS students,” he said.

“We’re excited to bring the quality of a magnet school education to a neighborhood school setting.”

Ami Irvin is an intern at the Notebook.

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