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Concert and rally to be held to save GAMP's school busing

By David Limm on Nov 8, 2012 02:07 PM
Photo: Flickr/Caitlinator

What's a highly regarded citywide school, cherished by students, parents, and faculty alike, to do when the District plans to take their school bus service away? Especially when they are concerned that doing so could have repercussions on student safety and school quality?

If the school is the Girard Academic Music Program (GAMP), the first thing to do was protest - and perform - at a School Reform Commission public meeting in October. And when that didn't help the cause, there's always Plan B: Do it again, only bigger. 

GAMP is planning a concert and rally for 6:30 tonight in the auditorium of the school, at 22nd and Ritner Streets in South Philadelphia. More than 500 supporters are expected to attend.

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Comments (45)

Submitted by Annonym. (not verified) on November 8, 2012 2:09 pm
This is a "perk" that GAMP gets but very few other schools enjoy. Wouldn't it only be fair for GAMP to call for equity for ALL schools than just their own school?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 8, 2012 5:43 pm
Don't they still get SEPTA?
Submitted by Annonym. (not verified) on November 8, 2012 8:15 pm
Yes, GAMP students can take SEPTA like everyone else. Why should they receive special treatment?
Submitted by GAMP PARENT (not verified) on November 9, 2012 8:59 am
When French Horns and bass clarinets start getting dropped on commuters feet every morning, they will join the fight to keep GAMP kids on school buses. GAMP is a special school and boasts great academics as well as a high attendance rate. Busing brings the students from 30 zip codes. It is truly a city-wide school that happens to be inconveniently located to the business district and suburban rail, unlike Masterman. Who would reasonable put a fifth grader with their backpack, lunch and unwieldy instrument on one or more SEPTA buses? You will not find a member of law enforcement that would tell you that is a good idea.
Submitted by Helen Gym on November 8, 2012 9:35 pm

Transportation is a basic access issue, especially as the District openly questions the role of neighborhood schools and touts quality "options." Moreover the "perk" mentioned is mandated for parochial, private and charter schools. Why would public school students be the ones treated differently?

Submitted by Annonym. (not verified) on November 9, 2012 4:15 am
Then ALL students who live more than 1.5 miles from their school in grades 1 to 6 - whether charter, public, private, or parochial - should receive yellow bus service. GAMP does not deserve special treatment that has continued well past the desegregation order. GAMP students are getting yellow bus service past 6th grade - that is not done for charters in Philadelphia. Transportation is a huge expense and therefore should be considered by the SRC when making school closing / open and expanding charters decisions. If GAMP gets buses, then EVERY student should have yellow bus service.
Submitted by GAMP PARENT (not verified) on November 9, 2012 8:05 am
GAMP is not a charter. It is a magnet public music school serving grades 5-12. GAMP does deserve special treatment. It is one of the best schools in the city and it should receive the support it needs to stay that way. If you feel strongly about this, visit GAMP find out what they are doing and replicate that so that more schools can produce the academic, musical and personal success seen at GAMP. The School District needs to spend its money wisely and should look to the most successful schools and fund what works. I agree that every student who lives more than 1.5 miles from their home should receive a yellow bus. The lack of yellow busing is necessarily denying opportunities to those students who do not live near magnet schools, or do not have parents whose work allows them to drive the students to and from school.
Submitted by Timothy Boyle on November 8, 2012 10:00 pm

GAMP's situation is the inverse of the District's "utilization problem". Open up almost one hundred new schools with legally mandated busing, but don't add funding? I hope the next iteration of the Charter Office thinks about how adding capacity and new schools to the pubilc school system effects the public's ability to get to District operated schools. 

Submitted by GAMP PARENT (not verified) on November 9, 2012 8:36 am
GAMP is not a charter school. It is a musically oriented magnet school founded in 1974. Students apply in fourth grade for fifth grade and must be invited to audition for fifth grade spots. Last year about 1,000 students applied, 250 were invited to audition for 66 spots. The fact that it has the highest attendance in the entire School District says a lot about the qulaity of the school.
Submitted by Timothy Boyle on November 9, 2012 7:22 pm

To be clear

I support GAMP's efforts to retain busing. I agree with the crazy notion that public school students in Philadelphia deserve a bus to get to school if they need one. My words about the charter office were meant to cast light on the irresponsibility around authorizing almost a hundred schools, and then authorizing thousands of seats in existing charters when such decisions add cost to the District.

If a kid can walk to Dunbar Elementary, but the family decides on String Theory, my understanding is there is busing in place. That particular student didn't need busing before. So that costs money. I imagine, (but am not sure of) the funds that can be allocated for busing are separate than say the funds allocated for capital improvements or teacher allotment. I am thinking that this leads to a same pot, smaller portion scenario for the GAMP's of the city. Which, in my opinion, is the job of the Charter Office to consider.


Submitted by Rob (not verified) on November 9, 2012 10:53 pm
I think the high attendance rate has more to do with the caliber of student than the caliber of the school.
Submitted by GAMP PARENT (not verified) on November 10, 2012 9:17 pm
If GAMP has the highest student attendance rate in the entire School District doesn't that say something about what is motivating the kids to go to school? I do agree that GAMP has wonderful students.
Submitted by GAMP PARENT (not verified) on November 8, 2012 11:32 pm
GAMP is a public (not a charter) magnet school for academically and musically gifted children in grades 5-12. GAMP students come from 30 zip codes. Can anyone honestly say that they would put their 10 year old child to ride SEPTA from the Northeast with a backpack, musical instrument and a their lunch at 6:00am? We have student that would have to leave that early to get to school. GAMP has the highest attendance rate in the entire Philadelphia School District, higher than neighborhood schools that students can walk to. GAMP is designated by the School District as a Vanguard School. GAMP's seniors have a 99% college acceptance rate.
Submitted by Annonym. (not verified) on November 9, 2012 4:55 am
So, what is your point? The "talking points" are old. (You can't compare neighborhood and magnet schools - by definition magnet schools only accept academically strong students who obviously have more of a desire to be in school. GAMP does not accept students who do not want to be there). There are many students who travel long distances to go to school. If a prarent in the Northeast wants to send their child to GAMP, they will have to make some sacrifices. GAMP students should get what all Philadelphia School District students get - a ride on SEPTA - if they live more than 1.5 miles. Otherwise, every students who selects to go to a school outside of their neighborhood has the right to a yellow bus ride. GAMP students are NOT "special" - only SOME students with an IEP legally have the right to a yellow bus.
Submitted by GAMP PARENT (not verified) on November 9, 2012 8:44 am
GAMP students are special. Come to the GAMP Winter Concert on December 17 or 18 at 7pm in the GAMP auditorium. Tickets available online. The District should fund success (by the way 20% of the school has an IEP). THe hypothetical parent in the Northeast is probably already making sacrifices. I have letters from parents who are at work early in the morning and depend on the school bus. Are they supposed to quit their jobs or deny their children a better education because their circumstances don't let them take theit children to school?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 9, 2012 1:31 pm
GAMP students are no more special than any other students in the school district. And the fact that you make it sound as if they should have special preferential treatment over other students is ridiculous. I agree that having students travel with instruments is difficult. However, the students and parents have chosen to attend GAMP knowing where it was. Do I think taking yellow buses away from public schools and still supplying them to charter and parochial is right? No! It's not right. But right now I believe it's within the district's power to do so under state rules. GAMP's middle schoolers should have access to yellow buses. But 9 - 12 graders. ABSOLUTELY NOT! Other district high school students are supplied with transpasses, let the students use them. Do you think when they graduate and still play their instruments they're going to avoid taking Septa? Believe it or not there are other schools in this district where even some of the middle school students use transpasses.
Submitted by GAMP PARENT (not verified) on November 9, 2012 2:09 pm
Our whole campaign is about busing for GAMP's middle schoolers. The high school students use SEPTA, and always have. Still, our high school families are supporting this campaign because they know how importnat busing was for them when they were in middle school. If a school has the highest attendance rate, a college acceptance rate of 99%, and high scores, IT IS special. The School District should be taking notes on what Principal Dr. Jack Carr is doing right.
Submitted by Annonym. (not verified) on November 9, 2012 3:57 pm
School bus service is ONLY for grades 1 - 6. GAMP wants it for 7 and 8 as well. This is "special" treatment. GAMP is not doing anything different from other magnet schools. It is very selective and threatens anyone who will no abide by the rules. So, if you don't "get with the program," you are out of GAMP. Thus, the scores represent this degree of selectivity. Again, it is the whitest of the magnets and has a much lower SES (low income) than most Phila. schools. So, why do these students need special treatment with 5 - 8 busing?
Submitted by GAMP PARENT (not verified) on November 9, 2012 4:05 pm
You should educate yourself about GAMP. They even add tutoring to help students who need extra support meeting the academic challenges. I think you also need to see for yourself how diverse the school is. GAMP is doing something different from every other magnet school. Every student at GAMP concentrates on music and carries instruments to and from school each day. GAMP is doing a lot of things better if it has the highest attendance rate in the District. THAT should be rewarded and other schools should figure out how to emulate GAMP's success. GAMP students do not have a truancy problem.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 9, 2012 5:13 pm
Is GAMP the only school in the district where students carry instruments to and from school? Do other schools offer music programs and instrumental lessons and study?
Submitted by Annonym. (not verified) on November 9, 2012 9:54 pm
Sure they do. GAMP is "crying" it is special and deserves "special" treatment. Many schools offer instrumental lessons. Some students have to walk through far more "risky" neighborhoods that GAMP's Girard Estates with instruments.
Submitted by GAMP PARENT (not verified) on November 10, 2012 8:12 pm
GAMP students have a minimum of 10 music periods per week including piano lab, music theory, music technology, choir, instrumental lessons, and ensembles. There are six full-time music teachers in the school and then specialists that teach children throughout the District schools that offer music lessons. I think that you should see GAMP for yourself and perhaps encourage the children in your life to apply to this wonderful school.
Submitted by Annonym. (not verified) on November 11, 2012 12:52 am
I'd love to see GAMP's budget. How does one school for 500 students get six full time music teachers PLUS itinerant music teachers while other schools, including bigger schools, have none? Some equity, please!!!!
Submitted by GAMP PARENT (not verified) on November 11, 2012 11:07 am
I believe that all Philadelphia School receive the same amount of money per student, and that different schoolas are given leverage about how to spend their budget. For example, Penn Alexander has a dedicated Science specilist because that is their choice (their excellent results in the Carver Science Fair each year shows it!). GAMP has 33 students per classroom, so their teachers are working with the maximum number of students. When a school is given Vanguard status, this lets the school leadership have more control of their budget. Also GAMP has an active HSA (like Masterman, Penn Alexander and Greenfield) that support the school. GAMP has music teachers, but it is a music manget school. OTher schools spend their budgets differently.
Submitted by K.R. Luebbert on November 11, 2012 6:12 pm
Penn Alexander gets more money per student than any other SDP school because the University of Pennsylvania kicks in over $1000.00 per student each year. This year, they also fully funded an extra kindergarten, NO comparison there. Please do not sing us the sad song about 33 students per room when all are proficient or advanced according to their test scores, no comparison there. The fact remains that all students should be entitled to the same advantages.
Submitted by Annonym. (not verified) on November 11, 2012 7:52 pm
Penn Alexander received $1300/per student extra last year and this year. And, as you wrote, Penn also paid for an extra kindergarten class (including teacher salary/benefits, etc.) Their classroom size, I believe, is capped about 17 in kindergarten and 20 in other grades. This inequity will never be addressed because it is Penn. That said, as you wrote, if GAMP students get buses, all students should get buses. If GAMP students get extra music teachers, they should be available to other schools. We don't even have enough teachers this year for all students to have an "elective."
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 10, 2012 12:43 pm
School bus service isn't just for grades 1 - 6. There are Philly pub schools that have 7 - 8 graders taking yellow buses too. But I also know from taking Septa myself, that there are students taking Septa in 4 - 6 grade from areas around the city to attend school at Masterman. If students there take public trans why shouldn't students from GAMP? As a magnet school the parents and students applied to go there. Why should they expect yellow buses to take there child to school if the school they chose was on the opposite side of the city? As a parent when you look at applying at a school for your child you don't go into it thinking "oh I'll just let the district supply buses." You go into it thinking, okay what if I have to supply the transportation? You make sacrifices, and if you don't have a way to get your child there, whether on a regular basis or as a contingency plan, maybe you shouldn't apply. Because, lets face it, it's not the students applying in 5 grade. It's parents filling out the apps.
Submitted by Annonym. (not verified) on November 10, 2012 3:54 pm
There is no yellow bus service for kindergarten anywhere in Philly. When my children were entering kindergarten, I had to consider whether or not I could get them to school. Yellow buses for charters are only for grades 1 - 6. Only students who have an IEP that requires busing get it in other grades. (This is the same for all schools). GAMP parents have to realize most schools are suffering from deep budget cuts. GAMP is a lot of hype. When the previous principal retired, he made a "splash" in the newspaper that he was leaving so Carr could stay and no music teachers would be cut. That was a lie. CAMP has an assistant principal. (Many K-8 schools with more than 500 students have NO assistant principal). GAMP has a new wing on their building that cost at least $25 million. Most schools have nothing. The SRC is using school condition as an excuse to close quality neighborhood schools. This is no hype.
Submitted by Annonym. (not verified) on November 11, 2012 2:23 am
Your IEP stat is LIE - 4.4% have an IEP. Look at the SDP web site - It only has .2% (that is point 2%) who are ELLs. GAMP is in South Philly - there should be more students who are ELLs. GAMP is a lot of hype. It hyped up its former principal's retirement - and included the lie that he retired to save an administrative position. (GAMP has an assistant principal in a school with 500 students. Many schools with more than 500 students do not have an assistant principal. It is so Carr has less work since he has no experience with academics.) Also, GAMP has a brand new wing and auditorium that cost more than $25 million and lots of resources other schools apparently don't have (six full time music teachers? itinerant music teachers?). Adding bus service is another "perk." There are many schools in Philly which are doing a great job with much less and with students who do not have to meet any requirements to attend. Some magnets are starving for funding while GAMP is getting more than its fair share. GAMP parents need to get over it and let their kids go on SEPTA like everyone else.
Submitted by K.R. Luebbert on November 11, 2012 10:08 am
You are clearly gaming the statistics when you say 20% of the student body has an IEP. 4.4% of those students have a learning or other disability, while 16% of them have a GIFTED IEP. That is HARDLY comparable with schools that have 20 some percent of disabled students! It is the whitest magnet in the SDP--49.7% white, Masterman is 42% white, SLA 32.7%. GAMP chooses its students, that is why it is successful. SO, while I may agree that some students should get busing, you do your cause no favors with an attitude about how special and deserving the students are. They are no more or less deserving than any student in the SDP. Statistics here:
Submitted by Annonym. (not verified) on November 9, 2012 4:58 am
GAMP also has a very low SES (low income) enrollment. Its Latino and African American population is only 35% - it is one of the whitest (49.7%) schools in the District. It only has .2% ELL - lower than Masterman. For years, GAMP and Masterman student received yellow bus service. Meanwhile, schools with much higher SES did not. If parents have to find ways to get their children to school, parents with more financial resources have more options.
Submitted by GAMP PARENT (not verified) on November 9, 2012 8:29 am
It would be interesting to have some statistics about other schools and how many zip codes there students come from. Are the students in other schools also transporting bassoons, French horns, and guitars, etc each day? Our band teacher estimates that $300,00 worth of instruments (District and privately owned) go in and out of GAMP each day. That makes 10 and 11 year old GAMP students particularly vulnerable on mass transit. Philadelphia has 2,104 registered sex offenders in Philadelphia. In 2010, Philadelphia's mass transit crime rate higher than Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles and New York. Masterman is more Centrally located than GAMP which is located very deep in South Philadelphia, and there are many parents who work closer to Masterman than to GAMP. Every year there are students in the Northeast who cannot make the commute on their own in fifth grade and leave the school in the first few days. Other students get called off the waiting list -- GAMP lost three fifth graders as they were Fairmount/Center City residents who made it off the Masterman waiting list. Thus, students who live closer to Masterman have an advantage of those students who live father away. GAMP used to be very much a neighborhood school before busing. It was predominantly Italian-American, Irish-American and African-American. It is truly a diverse school with a multitude of ethnicities and religions. What brings all of these students together is their love for music. Visit GAMP, go to a concert, and you will me amazed. Why aren't all parents and schools up in arms about busing for their young children who live at a distance from the school they attend?
Submitted by Annonym. (not verified) on November 9, 2012 9:31 pm
"Philadelphia has 2,104 registered sex offenders in Philadelphia" Are you claiming students with instruments attract sex offenders? My children go on SEPTA every day. We do not live in a plush neighborhood. They are safe on SEPTA. If GAMP parents are so intimidated by the city, then why do you live here?
Submitted by GAMP PARENT (not verified) on November 9, 2012 2:04 pm
Does anyone know the cost to the School District of transpasses per student per day?
Submitted by Joe. (not verified) on November 9, 2012 7:32 pm
Until we stop going hat in hand and begging for our rights, Corbett and his ilk like Nutter and Pedro will continue to abuse us and our kids. We need to demand more, not ask or beg. This is all total crap and kids in the more affluent suburbs always have exactly what they need and more. School Transportation is a right !!
Submitted by Anne Krawitz GAMP parent (not verified) on November 10, 2012 9:38 am
Yes, transportation is a right! This is not an issue that should divide parents of public school children, it is an issue that should unite us. Fifth and sixth graders are too young to make long, complicated commutes to school: two transfers and three buses leaving their homes before light and returning home after dark. The reason GAMP is fighting for its buses is because the principal Dr. Carr is dedicated to the student's diverse population, he DOES NOT want it to revert back to a neighborhood school. He wants to continue to offer the musical education GAMP provides to anyone in the city regardless of who they are or where they live. This is a passion and part of what makes the school successful. If GAMP was one bus or train ride away for all the students then we would not have been given the buses in the first place. This is a unique case because it is a magnate school and by definition draws musically talented children from all over the city but the children who attend GAMP are not unique--they are just like all the children in this city and deserve safe transportation to school. We public school parents should agree with what Helen Gym earlier comment. Why must city kids fight for their right to have safe transportation to school when I see private school and parochial children safely deposited at a corner within walking distance from their homes? This seems like the true issue public school parents should fight and we can't be effective doing it if we are arguing about individual schools. We can support each other's causes and be there for each other when it is time to stand up and make our children's needs known.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 10, 2012 12:14 pm
Unfortunately trying to take a stand to retain busing for public schools is going to be an incredible uphill battle the entire way. From what I understand, the Pa. State education rules don't definitively state that yellow school buses have to be supplied to public school children. They are however guaranteed to both parochial school students and charter school students. Is this true? Can anyone confirm this? And with deseg gone, and most schools originally using deseg budgets for busing, where are they going to get the money? It's going to fall to the state to pay for it. And somehow I don't see that happening after all the cuts Corbett has already made to education.
Submitted by Joe. (not verified) on November 10, 2012 2:46 pm
So, your point is what?? Is it to just accept the abuse? Sounds like it !
Submitted by Annonym. (not verified) on November 10, 2012 12:14 pm
Are you going to stand up for the neighborhood public schools that will be on the closing list? If neighborhood schools had music programs, then there wouldn't be the need for elementary students to travel around the city. There are many teachers and administrators fighting for their schools. We don't get the attention that magnet schools get.
Submitted by Joe. (not verified) on November 10, 2012 3:13 pm
"Fighting" is that what you call it???? The CTU fought for their rights and the rights of their families and kids. WE are doing next to nothing of consequence. The PFT Leadership is either incompetent or seditious. Choose one. Nutter is only worried about his future and won't dare piss Corbett off. The lapdogs like Pedro are just as bad, carrying out the death sentences on the kids' educations. A POX on all their houses !! Hopefully, Corbett will crash and burn over the Sandusky fiasco.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 10, 2012 7:05 pm
OK, you're PFT President. What do YOU do--SPECIFICALLY!
Submitted by Joe. (not verified) on November 10, 2012 7:41 pm
I would call for a strike vote immediately and hopefully get full support. Then--Strike and force Corbett and his lap dogs to fire everybody which they can't do. Time to take a stand en masse and bring NATIONAL ATTENTION. to this discrimination. Phila. was cut 28 times more than Lower Merion for example and we sit and take it. Obama needs to support the folks who reelected him.
Submitted by Joe. (not verified) on November 10, 2012 2:36 pm
It's called racism and classism at its core, masquerading as a deficient tax base. It won't get better until the people DEMAND it in a BIG WAY. The average city kid has been marginalized forever. The new "reformers" and what a joke that is, will only segregate the kids further under the guise of "choice." And the beat goes on with people like Nutter and his lemmings on the SRC following the marching orders of Corbett and the more affluent shot callers like ALEC. Take a look at The CTU and how they handled their own bullies and abusers. We, on the other hand, are just grateful Romney of all people, didn't get in. Obama needs to step up big time and grow a pair.
Submitted by Anne Krawitz GAMP parent (not verified) on November 10, 2012 1:50 pm
You can read the actual laws pertaining to transportation on the school district website at
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 10, 2012 10:31 pm
So under which one of these school district rules do you believe GAMP falls under? If you read them all it says is Neighborhood School. Meaning the school the student lives near or in the boundairies of. None of them seem to cover GAMP students.

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