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District recommends just 9 schools be closed

By Benjamin Herold on Nov 2, 2011 04:00 PM
Photo: Benjamin Herold

Interim SRC Chairman Wendell Pritchett (right) on the facilities recommendations presented by District officials Wednesday: "We need to do more."

by Benjamin Herold
for the Notebook and WHYY/NewsWorks

 

View an interactive map of the District's facilities recommendations.

[UPDATED Thursday a.m.] After months of speculation that dozens of schools across the city could be shut down, District officials have recommended to the School Reform Commission that just nine schools be closed by 2014.

The recommendations come as part of a package of facilities changes that District officials say will reduce their excess capacity by 14,000 seats – a far cry from the target of 40,000 seats they had earlier set.

“The path we’re taking, we think fits the times that we’re in,” said Acting Superintendent Leroy Nunery. 

But the District’s cautious approach met some immediate questions, including from some members of the SRC.

Asked if the plan goes far enough, Interim SRC Chairman Wendell Pritchett said simply, “We need to do more.”

For months, officials have argued that the District needs to dramatically “rightsize” its aging physical plant in response to dramatic declines in student enrollment , changing demographic realities, and ongoing fiscal challenges. Over the past 10 years, the District has lost over 50,000 students, leaving the system’s facilities operating at only about 68 percent of its capacity.

Wednesday’s recommendations will only take the District to about 71 percent capacity – well short of the 85 percent target adopted by the SRC last spring. But officials, calling this “phase four” of a facilities master planning process that started over a year ago, made clear that there could be more to come.

Nunery and District Deputy for Strategic Initiatives Danielle Floyd presented the District’s current recommendations at a special meeting of the School Reform Commission Wednesday evening. Their plan includes over 30 proposed actions, including 17 grade reconfigurations and the relocation of another school. 

Inevitably, though, most of the attention was on the proposed closures.

Five of the schools that could be shuttered are elementary schools, two are middle schools, and two are high schools. All but one, Philadelphia High School for Business, are neighborhood schools serving their surrounding catchment areas. Eight of the nine closings would take place next fall.

Parents, students, and supporters at E.M. Stanton Elementary in South Philadelphia were out in force Wednesday to voice their displeasure at the possibility of being shut down.

“I'm outraged,” said Angela Anderson, the parent of two students at E.M. Stanton. “I got physically sick to my stomach when I heard it.”

The new-look SRC, still short two members, took pains to emphasize that no final decisions have yet been made about specific schools and that they welcomed public input on the plan.

“These are recommendations,” said recent mayoral appointee Lorene Cary. “This is not a show trial where everything is already done and everybody has to shut up.”

On November 17, the District will host the first of 17 community meetings seeking input on its recommendations. 

Under state law, the SRC must also hold a public hearing on the recommendations and then allow for 90 days before it can take a formal vote to close schools. Officials said the earliest a vote could take place without a special meeting being called is March 22, 2012.

Interconnected recommendations

The nine schools listed for potential closure are spread throughout the city in a demographically diverse collection of neighborhoods, leaving no single community, ethnic group, or economic class bearing the brunt of the plan’s pain.

In making their recommendations, District officials said they considered a wide variety of factors ranging from the age of a school’s building to the quality of its educational program. 

Creating more traditional middle schools and reducing the number of grade configurations across the District were  key factors in the District’s decisions, said Floyd.

“One of the goals of this plan is to really try to get back to something that’s more manageable and predictable” for parents, she said.

All but one of the grade configuration changes involve changing just one grade, in most cases shifting K-6 schools to K-5.

Shaw and Tilden middle schools will be taking on more students, with each starting a grade earlier, while E.W. Rhodes is losing its high school grades and becoming strictly a middle school.

But two existing middle schools are targeted for closing – Pepper in Southwest Philadelphia and Sheridan West in Feltonville.

Many of the proposals are interrelated. In North Central Philadelphia, for example, FitzSimons High would be phased out over a two-year period, leaving E.W. Rhodes as the community’s neighborhood middle school and nearby Strawberry Mansion as its neighborhood high school.

In Roxborough, the educational program at Levering Elementary would be closed down, with parents given four options for where to send their children. The building at Levering would remain open, however, with another school that is currently in a leased facility in Mt. Airy, AMY Northwest, moving in.

“It’s going to be a little bit messy to get there, but we’re trying to have it be more streamlined,” said the Floyd.

Officials provided no firm estimates of the total budgetary impact of their plan, but said the cash-strapped District might save between $500,000 and $1 million per closure, per year – before the expenses of relocating students and staff and maintaining the shuttered facilities are factored in.

Further budget relief could come from the sale of surplus properties.

The District already was trying to sell off eight of its closed buildings. Under the plan announced Wednesday, some additional properties will also be listed, including two recently replaced schools – the West Philadelphia High building at 47th and Walnut Streets, and Willard Elementary in Kensington.

Acting Superintendent Nunery stressed that the facilities plan will not bring in “huge windfalls of cash,” however.

Current estimates are that the District can net $5 million from property sales this year.

Early reaction

Reaction came almost immediately after the recommendations were announced.

For supporters of schools that were spared, there was relief.

“I never know what to expect, honestly,” said Nijmie Dzurinko, the director of the Philadelphia Student Union, whose chapter at Furness High in South Philadelphia has been lobbying to keep their school intact. 

Those not attached to specific schools tended to focus on the District’s apparent decision to take a step-by-step approach to “rightsizing” rather than take all its lumps at once.

“They said they had a 70,000-seat problem. They’re dealing with a relatively small piece of it, which means they’ll have to deal with more of it later,” said Larry Eichel, the project director of the Philadelphia Research Initiative at the Pew Charitable Trusts, which recently released a study looking at school closings in six cities across the country.

Based on those cities’ experiences, Eichel said there is “no right or wrong” way to go about school closings.

Talking with reporters after the meeting, Nunery stressed the constraints the District is working under as one reason for the scaled-back recommendations.

“Everybody’s right to say, ‘Do more,’" he said. “It’s a matter of how much you can plan for in a budget-constrained system like ours.” 

Political critics who expected a major overhaul were disappointed.

"We've been waiting three years for this plan, and they spent a lot of time on it, and what's proposed isn't going to move the needle at all," said at-large City Councilman Bill Green. "The changes they're proposing in the next two years are marginal, given the big picture."

But one potential benefit of targeting a relatively small number of schools is that the District has likely defused political confrontations with some district Council members.

Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, who represents West Philadelphia, spent the summer anticipating large numbers of closings in her district after the Notebook published a leaked draft of the plan. Now she only has to deal with one: Drew Elementary.

"The less the better," she said.

More to come?

While he was not specific about a timeline, Nunery said more recommendations, including more potential closings, could be coming soon. 

“This plan is not one and done,” he said.

Any future changes would likely center around high schools and career and technical education, both of which went largely unaddressed in Wednesday’s recommendations.

“We’ve got work to do,” said Nunery.

That seemed to be a common sentiment among the diverse constituencies impacted by Wednesday’s announcement.

At E.M. Stanton, supporters of the school said they have only just begun their mobilization to reverse the District’s recommendation.

“We’ll be back,” said Susan Kettell, a retired Stanton arts teacher who still coordinates artists-in-residency program at the school.

And the SRC has some major procedural decisions to make in the coming weeks, including whether they will vote on the closing recommendations as a package or individually.

Interim Chair Pritchett said he hopes that the board can be fully constituted before such matters are decided. At the moment, however, confirmation hearings for recent gubernatorial nominees Pedro Ramos and Feather Houstoun, are stalled in the Pennsylvania Senate.

“It really is a frustration that we don’t have the full complement yet,” said Pritchett, who is presiding over the commission until Ramos is confirmed.

The current commissioners say they are committed to attending as many of the upcoming public hearing as possible, and they vowed to take community input seriously.

But Pritchett was realistic about the challenges ahead.

“I do think it is inevitable that there will be people who are upset and who will not be mollified by an interaction we have with them or any decision in the end,” he said. “That’s reality.”

Listen to Benjamin Herold's radio report for WHYY

Additional reporting by Patrick Kerkstra for PlanPhilly and Notebook editorial intern Avi Wolfman-Arent.

The proposed closings for next fall:

North Central

  • Harrison Elementary (K-8) Students to be re-assigned to Dunbar Promise Academy, Ludlow Elementary, or Spring Garden Elementary.

  • Sheppard Elementary (K-4) Students to be re-assigned to Julia de Burgos Elementary or Hunter Elementary.

  • FitzSimons High School (7-12) Part of a larger package of changes involving E.W. Rhodes and Strawberry Mansion High Schools, to be phased in over two years.

  • Sheridan West Academy (6-8) Phased out over two years, with all current students remaining until the school closes.

South Central

  • E.M. Stanton Elementary (K-8) Students to be reassigned to Arthur Elementary or Childs Elementary.
  • Philadelphia High School For Business (9-12) Phased out over three years, with all current students remaining until the school closes.

Northwest

  • Levering Elementary (K-8) Students to be reassigned to Dobson Elementary, Cook-Wissahickon Elementary, Mifflin Elementary, or AMY Northwest Middle School.

Southwest

  • Drew Elementary (K-8) Students to be reassigned to Powel Elementary, MYA-Middle Years Alternative, Locke Elementary, or Martha Washington Elementary.

Proposed closing for the 2013-14 school year:

Southwest

  • Pepper Middle School (5-8) Phased out over three years.

 

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Comments (94)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 2, 2011 5:49 pm

They have to close Stanton. Can't have any good public schools in Kenny Gamble's "Promise Neighborhood." Then people might notice his scam.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 2, 2011 7:11 pm

You sound like me--I am so jealous !!!! Gamble has been dirty forever--Did I say you are so RIGHT !!!!!! Congrats--You're my hero. All Charters are a scam but who doesn't know that !!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 17, 2011 9:16 am

What do you know about Charter Schools? You sound simple minded! One crappy charter school IS not the poset child for all. You need to fall back, do your research before you print incorrect items.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 17, 2011 11:26 am

One Charter School is bad and you call me simple minded. Yikes, Dude, check out the Stanford Analysis of schools. THINK, if you can. Charters are fast bucks for the folks as in politicians and providers, both of whom are on the take. Do you find it strange that Charters invade the inner cities where chaos and despair reign ?? No, you likely don't.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 2, 2011 5:18 pm

What is considered an "empty seat"?

Why is there no discussion about the schools that are overcrowded? What actions are to be taken in regards to schools in the NE and eastern part of the city?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 2, 2011 9:33 pm

I'm with you... there needs to be a restructuring to help with the INCREDIBLE overcrowding at NEHS. It's ridiculous that this has not been addressed in so many years. Classes of the contractual limit or higher (33 students), teachers floating and teaching in rooms that are inappropriate for the subject being taught! If they are closing doors they need to consider opening others to deal with the overcrowding. DRAW NEW BOUNDARY LINES!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 2, 2011 9:38 pm

They ain't messin with the white schools.

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on November 3, 2011 3:06 am

Look at the demographics - Northeast HS is 35% African American, 22% Asian American, 23.8% European-American, and 16.8% Latino/a. It is not a "white" school. Lincoln is 39% African American, 33.9% European-American, and 19.8% Latino/a. Frankford is nearly all African American and Latino/a and Fels is the same. Washington is the "whiteness" with 42% European-American. This isn't a "white school" issue.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 3, 2011 7:30 am

THINK---Compared with West Philly, Gratz. Sayre, Overbrook etc. it IS a white school.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 3, 2011 8:58 am

THINK - Why are you pulling a race card?
Stop trolling.
It doesn't even make sense in the context. I'm concerned about the fact that the population of youth in our city has shifted and we have 3200 students OF MANY nationalities, in a building built for 2200. This is a problem, just like a school that is only functioning at 40% of it's capacity. That is a problem too and it's good that attention is being paid to the issue. I just think there needs to be more discussion about the overcrowding issue too.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 2, 2011 5:08 pm

but wasnt universal partnered with the district in dealing with stanton

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 2, 2011 7:50 pm

Yes, but the scam wasn't working--not enough money for Gamble.

Submitted by Stanton teacher (not verified) on November 2, 2011 8:17 pm

I'm a teacher at Stanton. We had the "light management" of Universal Companies until this year. Now we're back under the SDP.They didn't do a lot-it's our staff that makes Stanton a success. We are not going to go quietly....8 years straight AYP, enrollment is climbing again with neighborhood parents touring Kindergarten for next year, involved parents, caring and highly qualified teachers, SPI score of 2 (1 is the highest)...building is in better shape than many other buildings I've been in...15+ partnerships including community and faith-based, as well as art, technology...our students are amazing...so what do they want?? Again, we will not go quietly. We fought and won before, and we will again.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 2, 2011 10:37 pm

Yes, I started at Stanton 22 years ago with a few teachers who are still there, It is a family school and I loved it too. Gamble is bad news, dirty forever and worse. I worked up the street for 5 years before moving into Low Incidence. Best of luck with your fight. Stanton is /was and hopefully will be a GREAT SCHOOL for many years to come.

Submitted by philateech on November 2, 2011 10:31 pm

..and I'm one of those teachers! :)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 3, 2011 7:39 am

I know some of you guys from the past--Great People.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 2, 2011 5:16 pm

and where is the phila highschool for business located

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 5, 2011 7:16 am

It is inside of the Old Stoddard-Fleisher and shares the building with Parkway CC High School. So really the question to the SRC and the district should be, why are you trying to hoodwink taxpayers? Why are you paying a Principal full salary to babysit 141 students while you have a functioning HS school in the same building? Please SDP and SRC be truthful in your decisions. If this year is about change and rebuilding, then why are you continuing down the same path as the previous administration?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 2, 2011 6:30 pm

Business & Tech is at the corner of Broad and Spring Garden.

Submitted by Educrat (not verified) on November 2, 2011 6:07 pm

The larger picture is that Philadelphia, including the governing body, does not have vision. Sure there will be a stream of younger people with City life dreams, but there are more reasons to move out after you have kids and realize you need to also save to retire someday. Our family's income comes from outside of the city; We're evaluating why we're still here. The tax structure is archaic and burdensome. The culture and politicians are self absorbed. It seems that it is now more burdensome thanks to the S.D.'s inability to do basic finance; despite these proposed closures, which are simply damage control.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 2, 2011 7:47 pm

Wrong, my misguided friend--It's the charter scam that needs to be checked and a full moratorium needs to occur until they have to show their cards. Vouchers, thank God, won't pass this time and hopefully, never. I am a white, fairly rich business person and I know the business model and it has NOTHING to do with helping poor children. NOTHING !!

Submitted by Educrat (not verified) on November 3, 2011 10:56 am

Of course, "helping poor children" is the infamous hook. Vouchers are a curious animal. Who would these businesses be that would want to contribute to a private school's scholarship fund and most strangely why, after all? Seems like there are some awfully creative "businesses" on the books as well as potentially creative private schools, eh? On these points, we agree.

On charters, I don't think they're all a scam. The fact remains that some are doing a whole lot more with a whole lot less, bringing to light the amount which is wasted by bureaucracy. Charters seem also to be doing much better on the parent and community involvement end. Since you are so much more savvy than I on this, what is that business model anyway?

Thanks friend!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 3, 2011 2:31 pm

ALL businesses are in the business of making money. The slum lord mentality is the easiest way to do that since you simply don't care who gets hurt. The providers who are black, are no different from the overseers of 200 years ago or at least a variation of that concept. Charters "seem" to be this, that and the other. The facts, nasty little critters that they are, are clear where Charters have been forced to show their cards. Even with all their cherry picking and other forms of dishonesty, they still suck in comparison with the traditional Public Schools. Around here, there is little or no real transparency nor accountability. Don't you find that curious? Don't you find that reprehensible especially since they are being funded through the state and feds?? Corbett wants vouchers and no accountability for those schools either. Can you see the inherent problems here? The REAL schools have to show their cards 24/7 which is APPROPRIATE but not the political hook up outfits, does that give you pause for concern? I hope it does as it should. This is blatant corruption, stacking the deck. This is not complicated and yet they still do it right in our collective face. The abuse is stunning. The pretext of "School Choice" is thrown out there to try to con the folks who are desperate for their children's future. It's all shameless--a massive shell game where the poor lose all the time.

Submitted by Educrat (not verified) on November 4, 2011 8:49 am

You show justified outrage at the cases which have come to public attention. You should then be just as outraged at the PSD, which has hidden the Title I fraud and abuse for going on 10 years now. Money is used to keep up regional offices that collect empty paperwork, and at my school a full time equivalent pay teacher position to do nothing but paperwork. Did you not wonder at where the money came from to save full day Kindergarten, that Ms. Ackerman magically found? As a parent the choice is clear: the precious public school uses this massive Federal funding on suits and paperwork, and the charters use it to bring kids to the Theater, and give them more resources. Check your facts before you jump on the fear wagon.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 4, 2011 12:27 pm

Believe me, I know the facts on both scores and there should be a POX on both houses. The problem is the Public School System is a RIGHT in the US and it needs to stay that way. Charters and Vouchers are diametrically opposite of that tenet. Be careful what you think you know that just ain't so. Having said that, I agree that improvement is needed in the PUBLIC schools too. Ackerman and her buddies give freedom of speech a very bad name but so do LOTS of charter carpetbaggers, Until WE correct all this, things will not REALLY improve for the kids. The first order of business is to remove Corbett from power. He means us no good at all.

Submitted by Educrat (not verified) on November 4, 2011 6:50 pm

A quick addendum to the above reply. Check out: http://ideamoneywatch.com/states/pa/?p=40
Also, I homeschooled for several years, doing very little as I struggled with juggling debts and other homefront crises. Still my oldest was reading 3 years above grade level when I finally had to put him in a public school in 5th grade, and my youngest was at grade level but improved significantly when I pulled him out for a year with a cyber charter. Is that not a pathetic showing for this precious public school? We are not a family of geniuses by far.
The business model of a charter is that it relies heavily on public largesse (grants), and parent/caregiver involvement. Schools within the traditional system, such as Cook Wissahickon, have shown that that is a successful model.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 4, 2011 6:03 pm

I have no idea what you're talking about. If you think Charters depend on grants and volunteerism etc., it is stunning.

Submitted by Educrat (not verified) on November 5, 2011 8:01 am

They only get Federal startup money, and then the State is less per child than the traditional public schools. The rest is from grants, which are easier for them to get as their own LEA. Look it up. It is actually cheaper for the State to have charters. No wonder Corbett supports them.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 5, 2011 9:28 am

Cheaper is better--if it looks good, it is good -----OF COURSE, THAT APPLIES VERY HEAVILY IN THE INNER CITIES, home of chaos, despair and the poverty cycle. I agree.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 5, 2011 2:33 pm

First of all, NOBODY should EVER say ALL because you immediately lose your argument. ALL doesn't happen often. Having said that, ALL charter schools are in the business of making money and ALL charters were instituted with politicians behind their genesis and we ALL know how that works. Say Imhotep 500 times and you get the idea. Vouchers are a particularly vulgar cousin of charters. Like charters, they promise the poor things they have no intention of providing. For every poor child who gets help, 100 won't so let's be real.
Stanton is a classy, family outfit. I started there 22 years ago and even then, it was first class. They have recently had a very, very, very phony person in charge who was all about show and form rather than substance but overall, it is a great little school. I believe they are doomed though because Gamble has the hook up and might trumps right. By the way, ask any human in Gray's Ferry about Gamble and get ready for a barrage of nastiness. The guy is a scum bag and everybody knows it.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 6, 2011 7:07 am

Right, in the case of phoniness the caregivers must be able to walk out in order to let them know they're phony. The last I checked, no one stops you from walking out of a charter. "Poor" (saintly public school) Levering, who ignored the parents who asked for real education, and gave them showy tricks and quick gratification instead. The lies and deception going on there. Sending school police after a well known parent volunteer to keep her from "wandering the hallways" while students managed to do that daily- is that not an obvious cover-up for shenanigans? The nonexistent School Improvement Plan that is filed, and the tricks to make AYP by doing nothing. So parents walked, hallelujah! And what happens in a Public School system? The hardened bureaucrats get seniority and get moved to another "lucky" school where they will likely displace more deserving personnel. In a charter, they have to look for another job.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 6, 2011 8:35 am

OK--I give up, what are you talking about??? Sounds like you need to sober up.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 6, 2011 8:26 am

I think he's scorning the whole system which makes him the master of the obvious. Both sets of schools have problems but ONLY one is a RIGHT of an American Citizen. Be careful not to play with that right so as to jeopardize losing it.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 6, 2011 8:11 am

It's fine. There are those who deserve the public school system as it is now. If you like it, you can keep it. If real estate taxes keep going up, I do have another place to go.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 6, 2011 9:16 am

I'll bet lots of people have told you where to go. Seriously, lighten up, Dude. All charters started the same way--through political hookups. That alone should give you pause. The staffs of charters are beginning to grumble about their lack of rights at every level. Does that really surprise you? Say IMHOTEP 100 times and get some sleep. UNIONS are all working people's friends, not just union workers. Google the US before unions and see how we were treated by the corporations. Do you want a return to those times? Sure, there are problems with unions and they need to be remedied but in comparison with the alternative, there is nothing that wrong. A Free Public Ed. is a right but charters cherry picked their students, cheat, lie, steal and they still SUCK. Hollywood couldn't make this stuff up.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 2, 2011 6:07 pm

With this list of proposed school closings, what will happen to the staff at these schools, will they follow their students to other schools? If that happens, will it place younger teachers or teachers with less seniority in the same position that they were in in June, July, August, unemployed, again? And then be faced at the nineth hour to come in, select a school again? Or will they not be re-hired because there won't be as many children or public schools to teach at?

Some parents, are probably already panicked about this most recent development. My heart goes out to them. If a parent has a little bit of money, they will probably find the means to place their child(ren) in other schools, probably private schools or the better public schools, particularly if they know someone. What happens to the poor families in our city who don't have such resources? What happens to those children? If transferring your child was a way to secure a good school for your child, didn't the transfer process end?

Who in the know did not see this coming several years prior to this announcement today and who is responsible for this total mess? Why was so much money mishandled? Where are the people who stood and said they wanted the best for the children and then turned around and lined their pockets with money that could have provided the children who need it the most with an education? This is beyond a mess and someone should answer for this disgraceful situation.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 2, 2011 8:54 pm

Money wasn't "mishandled." it was stolen from the poor to themselves. Slum lord mentality and yes, it needs to stop or it will only occur every year. STOP the charade of Charters too. What a joke they are !!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 2, 2011 10:39 pm

Ackermania 101.

Submitted by linda (not verified) on November 2, 2011 7:09 pm

Worse yet, some kids will say "why do I have to learn? My school is closing." Some teachers will say "why bother teaching any harder since my school is closing?"

I say, "hey, now I finally get to transfer and teach somewhere else."

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 2, 2011 7:17 pm

HOPEFULLY, this is on the up and up and folks are growing a pair and beginning to fight back. This Corbett budget is a disaster for the poor and for the middle class too. People with consciences need to demand better from the state--fund our schools, you scum bag.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 2, 2011 10:10 pm

I agree with you 100%. This governor does not care about the poor or the middle class. Our children are not a priority to him. It is time for parents to get involved in the political process and demand better!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 3, 2011 7:23 am

By any means necessary.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 2, 2011 7:33 pm

If the SDP claim to have 70,000 empty seats but only reduce 14,000 seats what purpose does that serve? What happens with the other 56,000 seat? Here we go with more of the same....game playing.....

Submitted by Namaste (not verified) on November 4, 2011 9:01 am

TEACHER VACANCIES!!! As of this posting, the SDP has nearly two dozen full-time and part-time listings on its Vacancy List. Please inform all our colleagues who were laid off and have not been called back yet that there are jobs available. Namaste.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 5, 2011 8:10 am

There may be vacancies but, with the proposed school closings, I am just wondering...what will happen to the teachers who are at the schools that are closing? Will they follow their students to the schools who will receive these students? If they follow, what will happen to the teachers that are currently at the schools who will receive the newly displaced students? Won't this create an excess of teachers? Will these teachers bump new (teachers with less than 3 to four years of service) and won't this situation cause more lay offs come June 30th, 2012? This entire situation is going to be problematic and we better be preparing for it because I am willing to bet that lay offs are going to occur again.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 5, 2011 9:10 am

Ackermania 101. Total Disgrace. It was all a scam to begin with.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 2, 2011 7:18 pm

Does not seem like much. At current rate of Charter openings etc., we will again have 70,000 open seats in a couple of years.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 2, 2011 10:05 pm

The hope is that the joke of Charter Schools will slow down as REAL transparency and REAL accountability will be demanded. The farce of Imhotep and several others have impacted all charters. We the people need to demand better. Elections matter--get rid of Corbett and work and demand equality from the government.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 2, 2011 7:21 pm

How many millions were spent by the District to obtain a facilities master plan?

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on November 3, 2011 2:34 am

Good question! How much staff time has been devoted to the topic?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 2, 2011 7:23 pm

I hate to see schools close, as a SDP teacher....but I am very surprised by how few schools are closing. I knew my school wouldn't close, but figured that somehow we would get extra students, considering that there are a couple of old buildings near us, and because we tend to have about 40-45 students per grade, resulting in two classes with very reasonable class sizes.

If the SDP can find a way to stay fiscally solvent after closing only a few schools, I am happy and relieved.....but I quite frankly am worried that at some point in the next couple of years the SDP will revisit and close more schools

Submitted by Sheppard Teacher (not verified) on November 2, 2011 8:41 pm

Isaac Sheppard Elementary School made AYP again this year. It is NOT REMOTELY under capacity - every classroom is full of students. It is an loving neighborhood school that has been adopted by Penn State and the Environmental Protection Agency, The Alice Rock School of Dance, Central Bucks South High School, Blue Cross and a variety of others. Students participate in dance, cub scouts, chess, meditation, drumming and a school play. It is a haven in one of the most turbulent neighborhoods in Philadelphia, a place where students can feel safe and cared for. There is absolutely no justification in closing it, especially to transfer our students to two overcrowded Empowerment Schools (Sheppard's smaller environment ensured that its students achieved well enough to avoid Empowerment status).

Not a single reporter in this city has had the interest to look into these claims of buildings being under-capacity, though many of them have been clued into the district's farce. This move, motivated not out of concern for kids, but out of the self-interests of adults, is depriving thousands of children of an education that has served the community with caring, integrity and respect for 114 years.

Submitted by Sheppard Teacher (not verified) on November 2, 2011 8:52 pm

Sorry - that should read "an education in a school that has served...."

Submitted by Philadelphia citizen (not verified) on November 3, 2011 7:03 am

Powerful argument for an important neighborhood school. I hope the School Reform Commission is reading these posts.

Submitted by Linda (not verified) on November 2, 2011 9:25 pm

Finally a transfer from my school to yet another opportunity...what ever comes will come

Submitted by Hope Moffett (not verified) on November 2, 2011 9:54 pm

I do find it interesting that Leroy Nunnery publicly stated that the success of Stanton was a reason to entrust Audenried to Universal, of course they forgot to mention that the same management system was also in effect at Vare, which failed failed rather spectacularly. I wish Stanton all the best.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 2, 2011 10:33 pm

Yes, they failed incredibly at Pierce too but hey, Gamble knows where the bones are buried.

Submitted by philateech on November 2, 2011 10:51 pm

believe me...Universal had NOTHING to do with our success...it was our staff, parents, and community! Universal kept us on because we made them look good-we were their only successful school for awhile.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 3, 2011 2:57 pm

You were the only successful school and it was because of the staff--Gamble and his ilk are scum bags, ripping off the poor while playing the race card 24/7. Disgraceful stuff.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 2, 2011 10:37 pm

by philadelphia school of business they dont mean kensington business right?

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on November 3, 2011 2:15 am

The school they intend to close used to be part of Bartram.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 2, 2011 10:02 pm

It is unfortunate, but not surprising, that the PSD will terminate Levering's K-8 program. A succession of incompetent principals in recent years overloaded the school with special education/emotional support pupils, in an effort to boost headcount and, likely, their status. At the same time, the school district eliminated the in-school security needed there to deal with this lopsided population.

As one result, Philadelphia police are called to the school most every day.

As another, the daily mayhem and police presence has discouraged neighborhood parents from sending their students to Levering, despite the school -- against all odds -- having made adequate yearly progress due to some unusually competent staff.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 3, 2011 7:33 am

Levering used every trick in the book to make AYP, "Safe Harbor", etc. - take a look at the stats. Even leaving out the Special Ed, which it managed when that group dropped under 40, overall it was less than 60% proficient/advanced for many years, and still is. The irony is that it "screwed" over its own children in doing so; those that were getting SES/free tutoring or computers from Title I no longer qualified. YES it was VERY bad management. There was also TOTAL lack of respect for the parents there that tried to make it better. More respect was given to the bullying parents and hardened "senior" bureaucrats. The school "police" were just as bad. Philly police still had to be called when they were there. So in this regard Ackerman was right (take a look at the WSF/School Based management rationale): school management needs to be motivated to keep up enrollment, which Levering took for granted while jumping hoops to please upper management.

It is justice and for the better (however shortsighted it may turn out) that this school be closed.

Submitted by SOS 60 on November 2, 2011 10:27 pm

There is a disconnect betweeen the FMP "educational framework" that is driving the decision making and the schools on the list.
E. M. Stanton meets all the criteria that the District states it is trying to achieve in its FMP decision making, except the minimum enrollment for a K-8 school. This has been determined to be 450 student minimum. Who and what determined this minimum? Is there perhaps a connection between the high performance of Stanton and its size?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 6, 2011 9:48 am

The location is prime as in money and Gamble and the Gentry are both trying to get it. Might trumps Right all the time. Bye, Bye, Stanton.

Submitted by SOS 60 on November 2, 2011 10:45 pm

The total number of "students in seats" eliminated by this recommendation is less than 2000. Why so low? And why is a school that is one of the highest performing elementary schools on the list for close. And why are other schools that are failing mightily not on the list? Might it be the market value of the building that is ended up on the list in spite of its high performance?

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on November 3, 2011 2:42 am

The location of Stanton probably has something to do with the proposal to close the school. It is in Gamble's territory. It is a gentrified neighborhood. The building will "sell." I assume some of the other buildings were also considered because a charter provider (e.g. Aspira) is interested in the space. Maybe Mastery wants Fitzsimmons now that it has Gratz.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 4, 2011 12:53 pm

ALWAYS about money isn't it??

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 2, 2011 11:23 pm

This plan does not make sense at all. If there was such urgency to close schools to address the 70,000 empty seats in the district then why is there a plan to only cut 14,000 seats? I have seen overcrowded classrooms in multiple schools. There are schools with overcrowded kindergarten classrooms and then the overflow of students are sent to other elementary schools. Why is it that reducing class size is not a topic that the district is dealing with? Teachers are being stretched to the max with large classroom sizes, limited resources and very little support. Also, I think that it is unfortunate that parents/students will have to travel further to these schools with the proposed closings. In a district where many of the families live in poverty, another expense and inconvenience has been added - transportation. This could ultimately affect rates of attendance, truancy, and parental involvement. District officials, please consider all aspects of your decision, which you all rarely do. Consider thinking critically about this.

Submitted by SOS 60 on November 3, 2011 6:58 am

When a school is "closed" or "consolidated," what happens to the teachers from the "closed" school? I imagine they have to "pick" from the available openings in the district at the time of the closure. I can't imagine the teacher's collective bargaining agreement would allow the "consolidation" or blending of the teaching staff into the new school. This disrupts the educational community and learning environment for the students. And what is the overall gain for doing this?

Submitted by SOS 60 on November 3, 2011 6:53 am

Was anyone still at the SRC meeting to hear the phrase "dollhouse" school discussed? Seems it is a term of art that means a small school, with "nice staff" and "nice students" and everyone gets along and everyone likes it. But the undertone was that when a "dollhouse" school does very well, it has less meaning and doesn't count for much, like, "of course it's doing well, why wouldn't it - it's a dollhouse school."

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 3, 2011 9:29 am

Everything is for the children???? Then how, exactly, is closing Sheppard helping our children? The plan is to close Sheppard, a small school that continues to make AYP, and send those children to 2 schools who are struggling. Does that sound like a plan that helps children? Ackerman started this nonsense and the SRC is following in her footsteps. Shame on them. They are no better than her. Sheppard is a diamond in the rough, but no one has ever taken the time to visit it and find that out. Now Sheppard students, families, and staff have to pay for the School Districts mistakes...it's not right.

Submitted by Another Sheppard Teacher (not verified) on November 3, 2011 11:01 am

You are so right. This was done blindly, because Sheppard is a small school in a neighborhood where few parents speak English or understand their right to speak up. In addition to the other services mentioned above, Sheppard offers parenting classes, an organic garden, the Eat Right Now nutrition program, bus trips weekly for the entire first grade to read with adults at City Hall, free coats for every child donated by a corporate sponsor. Children who go to Sheppard get a strong foundation education. We have no empty seats. Being a small school helps us educate children and instill in them a joy of learning. Please visit us, SRC! Come any time, without notice. Our city needs more Sheppards.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 3, 2011 9:38 am

so i guess this means for universal is going to take over stanton or that new school that is housed in saint charles will be moving in there

Submitted by SOS 60 on November 3, 2011 11:44 pm

It means nothing of the sort. SOS is fighting the recommendation.

Submitted by Didi (not verified) on November 3, 2011 9:46 am

Does anyone know who might buy the West Philly building?

It would be very sad for it to be torn down. Also, I can't help but notice that almost all of the schools slated for closure are beautiful (if run-down) buildings.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 3, 2011 9:29 am

It would be better to leave AMY Northwest where it is in Mt. Airy, and simply close and sell the Levering building, which would make great apartments for the growing transient/student population here. The savings in yearly upkeep of this aging building and savings in transporting the students of AMY would be far greater than the $200,000.00 currently being paid to lease the current AMY facility. Not to mention the money made from eager real estate owners. Yo, did anyone bring this up? This xenophobic community long ago disowned the school when kids began to be bused in.

Submitted by Audax (not verified) on November 3, 2011 10:24 am

Has anyone bothered reading the report? I'm just starting to. Why is it that the city has actually grown over the past decade and yet they are predicting falling population? Also, why predict that charter enrollment will grow? Is this based on turning over more schools to them? What is this based on?

Why is there not a Master Plan that indicates a plan to actually RETAIN and take students away from charter providers, instead of losing them?

Certainly over the past 2 years numbers are down, but part of that is down to the fact that the District has turned over schools to charter companies, thereby decreasing their enrollment.

There's not a ton of school-specific information in the report one can download? Why?

Master plans tend to be for longer than 3 years out. That's not a master plan, that's a 3 year plan. There is nothing in this plan about where they want to expand in terms of buildings, how they can, what they will do to alleviate overcrowding in those schools it occurs in. This is half-a$$ed.

Submitted by Christina (not verified) on November 3, 2011 4:21 pm

Closing Sheppard might seem inconsequential to those with power in the SDP. It is the quintessential neighborhood school, the kind where you can open windows and say good morning to your students aunts and uncles and mothers and father, the kind of school that anchors a community, the kind of school that gives students roots and wings... Closing this small school will have huge implications for the neighborhood around Howard and Cambria Streets forever. Hunter and DeBurgos have new, shiny buildings. But it is not what the building looks like, it is what inside that counts. I learned that as a teacher at Sheppard. So many administrators had their start at Sheppard. So many students and their families call Sheppard their home school. I am not sure how closing this gem of a small, neighborhood school solves the politician's money woes... In fact, losing this school will only create deeper issues that only EDUCATION, and really only a personal school with a family atmosphere can solve. God bless. God bless.

Submitted by Save Sheppard (not verified) on November 3, 2011 5:31 pm

I actually fear for our students - for the most part quiet and well-behaved because it is the nature of our school environment - when they are thrown into the impersonal, significantly more chaotic and threatening settings of Hunter and DeBurgos. It is folly to suggest - as district spokespersons have - that their educational futures will improve in a larger school. Research - and experience - have proven that children thrive in small schools where they are known as individuals, while they wither away in schools where they are merely a seat assignment vaguely associated with a face.

People have rightly pointed out that only by engaging families will education truly improve. Sheppard does exactly that, inspiring students who live in the grimmest environment to look beyond poverty and violence endemic to the neighborhood with a sense of hope and determination. The school district wants to take that away. Time to start asking why, really why, because this tiny school, with no air conditioning or elevator, doesn't cost the district much at all.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 3, 2011 6:21 pm

The SDP is not looking at what it is doing to the morale of the school for both the parents, teachers, and students!!! The teachers at E. M. Stanton are dedicated and hard-working!!! They come to school everyday and they aim high!!! They expect nothing but the best from their students!!! For the people that are saying that Stanton is connected to Kenny Gamble is incorrect!!! Stanton has nothing to do with him!!!! Universal Companies gave them up in June!!! I wonder if that is the reason why the SDP is saying that they want to close them down!!! He probably wants to buy the building for himself!!! Again it is not for the children!! I guess that is how the rich get richer!!!!! I am a product of the School District of Philadelphia and it is sad to see how the SDP absolutely does not care about the children!!! You should drive by Stanton and see how the staff, students and parents are a family!!!It is a very unique situation!!! Leave Stanton ALONE!!!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 5, 2011 2:56 pm

It is ALL about Gamble and nothing more. He has the hook up along with other slithering cruds like Evans, Porter and Williams. Money talks to, here it comes--Nutter and his wife and everybody knows it. Until the city rids itself of these particularly evil carpetbaggers who prey on the poor while playing the race card 24/7, NOTHING will change. The second Nunnery, of all people, took over, the obvious was clear--same old, same old. Of course, Stanton shouldn't close--not on merit--but yes, it will close because of Gamble. Look at what he did with Peirce and Vare and the same will happen at Audenried--slumlord mentality with no regard to the people, only the dollars they represent. Folks like the ones above better hope there is, no God.

P.S. Porter is the head of Mosaica. A splendid fellow, Mr. Porter was chased out of Oklahoma City for misappropriation of money and now he runs a city school. You just can't make this stuff up--only in Detroit East, I mean Philly.

Submitted by SOS 60 on November 4, 2011 12:26 am

If the E. M. Stanton community needs to go through this again to shine a light on what is going on inside that school and in this community, then so be it. Let the light shine. E. M. Stanton is a truly "turned around school." It was slow, steady, sure progress over the last decade. The transformation is authentic and rooted in the community, the staff and the students. Check it out. What everyone says they want to happen for our schools happened at Stanton. Closing it? Really? No

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 5, 2011 7:40 pm

I started at Stanton, 22 years ago with Holly Shaw and I remember Loretta Solis and Susan Kettell well too. It was always a great environment for the kids to learn and the staff to work together. Of course, this isn't about numbers except in the sense of dollars. The Gentry and Gamble both want to get their hands on the property but who didn't know that?? Just a disgraceful situation for Detroit East, I mean Philly. Until the carpetbaggers, and here it comes, Nutter included, get ousted, things will only get worse. By the way, Corbett who carpet bombed Phila. with his draconian budget, loves all this.

Submitted by SOS 60 on November 6, 2011 9:26 am

@ the several and many Anonymous's. There are so many of you, not sure who is who.
Might beats Right every time? Really?
I guess we have a fundamental disagreement on how to live as well as a view of history.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 6, 2011 12:38 pm

SOS--Yes, feel free to look at HISTORY if you dare to pull your head out of the sand. Might has ALWAYS trumped right. Can you say, Catholic Church for a recent example?? Actually, please don't even respond, just get a life for your own good.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 7, 2011 2:28 pm

I hear alot of speculation. Does anyone know of this to be the truth. To call Mr. Gamble dirty sounds very personal. Before making statements, I think the facts should be researched. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 7, 2011 2:34 pm

This sounds like alot of speculation to me. To call Mr.Gamble dirty sounds very personal. I think the facts should be researched and proved, before accusing anyone outright.
Taking things personal is not going to resolve any issues.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 8, 2011 6:41 am

It isn't personal to say that someone who is taking millions of our tax dollars to run what used to be a public school is dirty.

It also isn't speculation to look at the facts: Audenried was a brand new building with mostly new staff that was doing better but was never given a chance to succeed. Gamble received a grant from the federal government prior to any district turnaround plans that gave him a whole mess of money CONDITIONAL on his having schools to turnaround in the neighborhood assigned.

Ackerman and Archie are known to, have been proven to, be guilty of plenty of backroom deals, greased palms, and political shenanigans. Audenried was never really allowed a voice in the decision to turn the school over, specifically to Gamble.

His schools are not proven to do any better, but they keep giving him schools in that neighborhood. EM Stanton is across the street from a Universal companies storefront. It's obvious he wants that, too. The only question is will he get it just because he wants it, or will the district finally do the right thing?

Gamble's motives might have been okay in the start, but the way he has gone about getting what he wants has made him nothing short of a shyster, just like Dwight Evans. Both think that their vision is better than anyone else's and that they are the only ones who know what's best for the communities they are taking over. No matter what the communities think, no matter what the law says, no matter.

Submitted by SOS PJ on November 8, 2011 2:37 pm

Hey All, I am a parent and member of SOS. I just want to make our point clear. Based on the data, E. M. Stanton is high performing. Based on the parent, student, and teacher surveys, E. M. Stanton is a nurturing, safe, and clean environment. Based on the idea that public schools will have to develop public/private partnerships to support their programs, E. M. Stanton is ahead of the pack. Based on the top must haves that parents said they wanted at the FMP meetings- art, music, technology, computers, appropriate class sizes, library, smart boards, and science lab. We have all that! If the going thought is that Philly needs high-quality schools to strengthen communities and attract homebuyers with children. E. M. Stanton gets the job done! There are a number of great schools in Philly and E. M. Stanton is one of them. Why should that be disrupted for any reason?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 23, 2011 10:13 am

Pepper should not be closed because i went there for my 7th grade year n i had good grades. Yea there might be a lot of fights but thats because we are girls n we love drama. On the boy's side im not very sure what happens over there. Just because of how our behavior is not the best n we are bad doesnt mean u should close the school........... :'(

Submitted by suziek (not verified) on April 12, 2013 10:05 am
yes thank yu im in pepper middle school right now in class on the laptop and idek why they are closing pepper, pepper is a good school! :( just so upset!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 12, 2013 9:59 am
why is pepper closing down pepper is a good school we arent going to be getting any good education w/o pepper we love pepper we love pepper
Submitted by suziek (not verified) on April 12, 2013 10:19 am
WE LOVE PEPPER

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