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Community awaits announcement of 'unprecedented' school closings

By the Notebook on Dec 12, 2012 04:36 PM
Photo: Jane Golas for Plan Philly

George W. Pepper Middle School was approved for closure earlier this year.

by Bill Hangley, Jr.

The long wait for details of an “unprecedented” round of school closures may soon be over.

Philadelphia School District officials have announced a press conference for Thursday afternoon at which they’ll share details of their plans to reorganize the District into a “portfolio” model that will “reduce excess capacity, standardize grade configuration and decrease capital expenses.”

District officials would not share details of Thursday’s announcement, but it is widely believed that it will include a proposal to shutter about 40 specific schools – by far the largest wave of closures in the District’s history.

“It’s unprecedented. I don’t know that any other city has closed this many schools in one year,” said Mark Gleason, head of the Philadelphia School Partnership, which favors a portfolio model that includes privately managed charter schools.

An exodus to charters is one reason for the underutilization in the District’s more than 250 school buildings. The District has lost about 30 percent of its enrollment over the last decade and there are dozens of schools that could be described as half-empty.

Gleason called the closures “inevitable” given the District’s precarious finances, but anticipates significant public opposition.

“Clearly it’s going to be messy,” he said. “But I think there’s an opportunity to focus the conversation … on redirecting resources into classrooms where they can be of the most benefit to the most students …. and how do we ensure that the schools that receive these students can best manage their arrival.”

Opponents are mobilizing, arguing that national studies show that mass school closings don’t improve districts either academically or financially.

“The District has failed to demonstrate what it will do differently from other cities to address those concerns,” said a statement from the advocacy group Parents United for Public Education.

The Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS) –  a group of advocates that  includes the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers – will host a protest rally at District headquarters on Thursday afternoon. PCAPS wants the District to hold off on school closures until it can provide detailed impact analyses for the communities affected.

“We’ve been calling for the last few months for a moratorium on closings,” said PCAPS spokesperson John McDonald. “Until we get [the impact analysis], we’re going to keep pressing. These schools anchor their neighborhoods.”

PFT spokesman George Jackson said the union will wait until a closure list is released before commenting in detail.

But, in general, he said,  the PFT doesn’t believe that large-scale closures represent sound fiscal or educational policy. “If and when this is announced, us and PCAPS will be making sure that the community has a chance to weigh in,” Jackson said.

The prospect of large-scale closures was first raised by the Boston Consulting Group last spring, when it released its privately funded plan for a District overhaul. Last month, citing the need to implement closures quickly for financial reasons, the School Reform Commission (SRC) voted to give itself leeway to speed up the closure process, eliminating a required three-month waiting period between school-closure hearings and a final closure vote.

Robert McGrogan, president of the Commonwealth Association of School Administrators, the principals’ union,  said his members had been told nothing specific about any closure plans. But he anticipates that many principals will soon be knee-deep in controversy.

“The community’s going to be looking toward [principals] to advocate for the school remaining open – and their employer [the District] is going to be telling them, ‘We need you to tell your community that this is in their best interests.’”

McGrogan said principals were asked last week to conduct complete inventories of school property, a request he called unusual, and which he believes is intended to help prevent theft once the proposed closure candidates are announced. He’s concerned about lost jobs for principals and building staff, as well as the potential problems the remaining schools will have absorbing  large numbers of new students.

“Anybody whose school is not on the school closure list, if they think they’re not going to be affected, they’re living with blinders on,” he said.

But he is encouraged that new Superintendent William Hite has not told principals to keep their mouths shut about potential problems. He compared Hite favorably to his predecessor, Arlene Ackerman, who, according to McGrogan, pointedly told principals not to publicly criticize her Promise Academy turnaround plan.

“That superintendent [Ackerman] brought my members into a room and threatened them: If they could not help their communities see that this was in their best interests, that this District certainly didn’t need that type of leadership,” McGrogan said. “Dr. Hite is an entirely different individual, and he promised me that he would never dictate how my people should behave. I think was receptive of the vulnerable state that they’re in … Some things are going to be said out of emotion. [Principals] should be without fear of reprisals for speaking the voice of the community.”

PSP’s Gleason said that as closures move forward, he’ll be watching to see whether the data show that displaced students actually end up in better schools, District or charter. It remains to be seen, he said, how effectively District staff will be able to manage the overall transition.

“This is the first big test of whether you can really get planning and coordinating between charter and District schools that leads to the best possible result,” Gleason said. “They have very sophisticated databases [in District headquarters] that can map where students live, where they go to school. They have leadership that knows the way we need to start doing business. But time will tell whether they have the capacity in terms of people.”

McGrogan said that he’ll be watching carefully to see whether the remaining schools get more resources as a result of the closures. He wants to hear a commitment from the District that closures will allow it to provide what it now claims it can’t afford, like full-time nurses. “The absence of that commitment, and just the announcement that we need to do this because it’s the financially responsible thing to do, I think would be a discredit to the entire process,” he said.

School officials have insisted for months that closures on a major scale are necessary, due to excess seats and its financial deficit. Gleason said he hopes that Philadelphians don’t get bogged down trying to stop closures.

“Through the fault of none of the people currently running the system, this is where we are,” Gleason said. “The money just isn’t there."

Hite is faced with an “extra-challenging situation” and has done a good job of listening so far, Gleason said. “What I don’t want to see the community do is tear him down for something that he doesn’t have a whole lot of choice in.”

But many anti-closure advocates are convinced that the financial argument is a cover for a more ideologically driven mission to privatize public education. They say they aren’t willing to accept the District’s proposals without a challenge.

Parents United, which recently filed an ethics complaint seeking more information about the private donors who funded the original BCG report, called the closure process “dishonest and disrespectful.”

“Parents have been left in the dark on the machinations of the school closings process,” the group said. “We’ve asked for data, maps, metrics and information for more than two years and have received almost nothing. … We watched the school district approve a massive charter expansion in the spring at a projected cost of $139 million over five years while insisting neighborhood schools close that financial hole. We do not have confidence in the process and metrics by which schools have been chosen.”

And PCAPS members hope their rally on Thursday helps push the SRC to gather and share more information before finalizing closures.

“We always have hope, so we don’t feel that train has left the station,” said PCAPS member Quanisha Smith, a staffer with the community organizing group Action United. “We just have to escalate this more and more, and show them that … we don’t want this. There needs to be more analysis. People want more transparency.”
 

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Comments (131)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 5:07 pm
Looks like us teachers will be left kicking rocks
Submitted by Tanja Carter (not verified) on December 12, 2012 7:36 pm
Where I come from an education is for free. If these people continue to close our children out of their education centers which they have the right to have we can take things to a higher level because if we can teach in a school building we can surely teach in homes, churches, recreation centers and if necessary take education to the streets and again if it get to hot or cold we can use our homes. I am a teacher who do this for the love of what I enjoy doing and my rewards are successful individuals not a pay check. I have solutions for every problem the politicians present because money don't make me nor will it break me. i can't believe how everyone is just sitting back letting this go on it's like the blind are leading the blind can some one open their eyes and lead the ones who really can't see?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 1:16 am
start a charter. your sentiments were the foundation of the charter movement. it is the district that has sought to usurp the movement, turning into a strategic dismantling. It would be like Britain deciding what colonies became states.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 11:18 pm
As teachers, we will not be left kicking rocks unless we choose to do so. We have transferable skills and many of us have multiple degrees. We are critical thinkers, motivators, managers, social workers, surrogate parents, role models and educators. I am sure there will be places of employment in other fields that will appreciate all we have to offer. Give yourself some credit because we do an awesome job, on a daily basis. The children are the real losers in all of this.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 4:29 am
While I do not agree that school closing is the answer, most of these comprehensive high schools are not working! Students are smoking in hallways, cutting classes (if they even show up), vandalizing the building, I could go on! But most importantly, they disrespect the teacher so much a genuine lesson can not even take place. The curriculum is dumbed down, and most teachers feel like they are certified babysitters! Administration knows that they can't do anything about the behavior (because they refuse to hold parents accountable) so they say the heck with it, close it, and put them somewhere else...make other school overcrowded and the process is repeated. Truth be told, they don't really want to fix it. The create a student code of conduct, but flat out refuse to back principals up when they try to enforce it, and who is left dealing the crap student dish out...TEACHERS! According to the newly redesigned pink slips, most offenses that a student should be suspended for are level I, and now a student must draw blood for the offense to be considered an assault! Talk about pipeline to prison. Most of the schools are just that, holding patterns for the next phase of these students' lives, and administration and politicians could care less. From K-12, education in the urban communities are a joke! Most of these kids WILL end up in prison or dead. Just what they want...a new modern day slavery. WAKE UP PEOPLE!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 5:42 pm
Amazing how this is done during teaching hours. I bet I'd get written up for watching the live stream with my students.
Submitted by Bill Hangley (not verified) on December 12, 2012 6:55 pm
If you'd really like to do that, I'd sure like to join a class to watch & discuss. Would make a very interesting story to write about how this looks from the perspective of a classroom full of students. Drop me a line (billhang@msn.com) if you'd like - - I'd be glad to look into the steps needed to get clearance to join you (but please don't worry if it doesn't work for you - - I'm not exactly sure what my day will involve tomorrow, either).
Submitted by Tanja Carter (not verified) on December 12, 2012 7:04 pm
I really agree with you on this especially with the class room full of students part. Listen I am ashamed of the Philadelphia School District because they are going along with this instead of fighting for the children's right to a good education in a safe environment. There are a lot of lies being told and if we as people come together against these politicians some truths will be revealed. I am not racist however I am realistic our African American children are being set up for failure because I believe some are afraid of how successful they can really become given the proper opportunity.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 8:45 am
they r setting up all kids in the the district to fail not just african-american kids. they want these kids to depend on the goverment the rest of they lives.
Submitted by Tanja Carter (not verified) on December 13, 2012 11:44 am
Thanks for the support and correcting me where I was wrong by saying or singling out African American children. You are absolutely right the target is all the kids in the district and I stand to be corrected. I am so angry this is really going on that I typed with out re-reading my own words but I never meant to say just African Americans.
Submitted by Rudolph (not verified) on December 12, 2012 6:17 pm
You better watch out You better not cry Better not pout I'm telling you why Santa Close is coming to town He's making a list And checking it twice; Gonna find out who's naughty and nice Santa Close is coming to town He sees you when you're sleeping He knows when you're awake He knows if your BUILDING is bad or good So let it be good for goodness sake! O! You better watch out! You better not cry Better not pout I'm telling you why Santa Close is coming to town Santa Close is coming to town The crumbling chimneys that HITE MIGHT go down….. Comm Tech, Douglas (off to Carroll you go), Franklin (real estate $ - location, location, location), Germantown, Kensington (4 to 2 or 4 to 1?), Lamberton (off to Overbrook you go), Lankenau (off to Roxborough you go), Mansion, Motivation, Parkway (2 to 1), Elverson and Leeds (2 to 1), Robeson (off to Sayre you go), UC High (real estate $ and someone has to fill the SEATS at the new West), Vaux and a Dobbins/Bok at William Penn (2 to 1). "Bobbins" does have a nice ring to it! We wish ALL Philadelphia School District students a safe, high quality education in YOUR neighborhood!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 7:20 pm
Carroll is on the list.
Submitted by J.J. McHabe (not verified) on December 12, 2012 10:08 pm
What about Spiro T. Agnew Juinor High?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 8:20 pm
Lankenau was slated as an "Expansion School" in the same category as Girls' High and Franklin Learning Center. This is not one of the schools that is likely to close---considering the media coverage on the school back in April.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 9:32 pm
Lankenau High School is on the Relocate Program list.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 9:06 pm
Where is Lankenau relocating to?
Submitted by Concerned Phila. (not verified) on December 12, 2012 10:25 pm
Thanks, Rudolph! Are you leading the way out of the SDP darkness?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 6:51 pm
Hite's continues to dish out money to organizations but we still are not fighting the real problem, students are not learning. In the end many teachers will be without jobs and students will be without good teachers, so sad. Don't worry everyone Hite's and everyone else on the panel will be making 6 figure, I think they should enter the classrooms.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 6:09 pm
What has the SRC done in the ten years they have been running the district. Nothing got better. Close down the SRC, their sneak theif attempt to rush these changes through despite a required three month period shows us they are just plan dishonest.
Submitted by Another Parent (not verified) on December 12, 2012 6:28 pm
This is from NBC 10: According to our source, Hite wants to close or consolidate 22 elementary schools, four middle schools and 11 high schools. Our source tells us those schools include: University City High School Germantown High School Strawberry Mansion High School Bok Technical High School The plan would also involve Paul Robeson High School to merge with Sayre High School, according to our source. Our source also tells us the plan would save $28.9 million for the district. Why isn't Paul Robson HS being combined with Parkway West? Together they have about 400 students. Why Strawberry Mansion? It is a newer building. That school just absorbed Rhodes and Fitzsimons. Where will the students go? Ben Franklin? (William Penn is another closed school. What will they do with it?) Bok is no surprise since the building is falling apart - literally - so I assume they will get a new building. University City - yes, Penn and Drexel territory. Germantown? Will students go to Roxborough (which now has admission requirements) or Martin Luther King? Any ideas what other schools will be closed? 5 high schools are listed. That leaves 6 more... Will more special admit schools close or be consolidated? What about Comm Tech? Motivation? Parkways? Anything in the Northeast?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 6:52 pm
Which Middle Schools are named??
Submitted by Another Parent (not verified) on December 12, 2012 7:40 pm
NBC didn't list any. Maybe Roosevelt? That is the school that triggered the test cheating investigation. (Unfair that the cheating principal was given Wilson in the Northeast by her friend Penny Nixon). MYA? (with expansion of Powell into a middle school, MYA may be a moot point) Wagner - another school noted for cheating. Shaw? Harding? There aren't many middle schools left. Penn Treaty? 22 is a lot of elementary schools. Are they again concentrated in a few regions?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 8:48 pm
Shaw and Pepper are the other two middle schools on the list.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 8:31 pm
Thank You.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 9:30 pm
So Shaw, Pepper, Sheridan, and Roosevelt are the 4 middle schools?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 9:21 pm
and Samuel Fels HS (7-8) is on the close list.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 12:16 am
Fels doesn't count. That building is actually the Carnell annex in the old Fels HS. and has been condemned. The 7 and 8 grades are relocating temporarily to St. Bernard's after the holidays. Lisa Haver
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 12:17 am
Fels doesn't count. That building is actually the Carnell annex in the old Fels HS. and has been condemned. The 7 and 8 grades are relocating temporarily to St. Bernard's after the holidays. Lisa Haver
Submitted by J.J. McHabe (not verified) on December 12, 2012 10:39 pm
I heard David Naughton Elem is combining with Leif Garrett Performing Arts High School and they will be a K-12 school. Does your list confirm this?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 8:58 pm
Sheridan West is other middle school on the list.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 5:56 am
Leeds is one of the schools. Praying that the neatby pre-k to 6 does mot absorb these students. That is a wide age range of children in one biilding. I think students should be informed and provided the reasons why so they won't feel like cattle being led from one pasture to the next.
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on December 12, 2012 7:45 pm
University City HS is a logical choice to close. My understanding is that there is excess capacity at Overbrook. I don't know about West Philadelphia HS, but there may be extra capacity there too. Also, UC HS is not really a part of a neighborhood anymore. In addition, I know people who have spend time in the building and they say it looks and feels like a prison. Also, the SDP could make a ton of money from the sale of UC HS because it's on prime real estate. I'm not saying it should close, but it's a more logical choice than other high schools. Furthermore, some of the schools that are close to UC HS don't even feed into UC HS. For example, Belmont CS feeds into Overbrook and Alexander Wilson feeds into West Philly High.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 8:56 pm
The rumor is UC is being sought after to house SLA principal expanded program.
Submitted by Another Parent (not verified) on December 12, 2012 9:38 pm
If SLA takes over Univ City, the building needs a lot of renovation. This is certainly not the fault of Univ City HS. The School District has neglected to repair the building for decades. It would not surprise me if Drexel/Penn have some agreement with SLA. When Vallas was in the School District, Penn was suppose to create a small, internationally focused school and Drexel a science focused school. Well, maybe this is the reemergence of that configuration under SLA.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 8:34 pm
Before you refer to schools that "look and feel like prisons," I suggest you go and walk through them. That's a pretty horrible thing to say about a school, especially one that you have never even set foot in.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 8:10 pm
Robeson, Bok, Lamberyon HS....on list.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 6:57 pm
George Jackson needs to learn English Grammar. What is wrong with these "educator types?"
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 7:21 pm
And when classes are at 40 plus next year, you are still supposed to have proficient students?
Submitted by Tanja Carter (not verified) on December 12, 2012 7:05 pm
I can't believe this is what our politics have come to but it does not surprise me at all. How could people be so blind to what we have sight to see? Education is very important and society have found a way to make education just a word. The schools are empty because once they took God out they took out the guidance, structure and ability to teach effectively. God won't bless no mess okay and this is what our school district have become a real mess. Parents we have more say so then these politicians who are making these messed up decisions to close schools, take away resources, and make life hard for those who work hard verses those who hardly work. I hope there are many more angry parents like my self who want to put a stop to these people who are trying to lead our children down these one way streets to disaster. These stupid ideas remind me of the cartoon where the one mouse was always trying to come up with plans of ways to run the world and his brainless partner who followed him although each attempt fail. The cartoon was called Binky and the Brain and every time I hear of the foolish ideas our elected representatives come up with it reminds me of the cartoon characters which are mice. Please parents, grand parents,aunts, uncles, cousins etc. come together stop these people or things are going to get really bad.
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on December 12, 2012 7:09 pm
Tanja, The only way to stop this is if the masses reject it and reject it with vigor. Nutter is doing NOTHING to help us so let's not be fooled by his rhetoric. WE need to band together or we'll have a school system that is designed on segregation with a whole generation of poor kids doomed to prison or at best, manual labor. Unions will be gone and so will be the hope to advance. This a very scary time and it has NOTHING to do with "choice" in any real way. It has everything to do with money for the already rich while destroying the middle class and by extension, the Democratic Party in the inner cities, kind of like a slave labor camp.
Submitted by Tanja Carter (not verified) on December 13, 2012 11:13 am
I agree with you 100%. I've been involved with the Philadelphia School District since 1990 servicing children from all walks of life. I did not get up at the top of the morning thinking about the money I would make for impacting or improving the lives of those children. Education was important back then and it's just as important now. The fact that these people have mismanaged money is not an excuse to take away the rights our children have to be educated. I can care less about the so called money matter, I really care about our children nation wide getting their education which they deserve. Nutter is a poor excuse for a leader, he have children but we already know his children education is not in jeopardy at all. I for one did not vote for him simply because I never got over the initial shock of Street being in office. I am very much willing to do what ever it take to fight for our children.
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on December 13, 2012 12:05 pm
Tanja----Your heart is in the right place and I admire you for your concerns. Unfortunately, Big Money talks lots louder than integrity and what's best for the kids. Segregation 101 will be the result of all this IF it happens. Hopefully, this mass corruption will galvanize people of conscience to mobilize forces against it. Isn't it funny that the suburban schools don't have these problems ?? Gee, I wonder why??? The truth is these money makers see and have seen for a few years now, dollar signs on the backs of the inner city kids that never existed before. This is business for them and money is the goal NOT kids. I, too, am very much willing to fight this.
Submitted by Tanja Carter (not verified) on December 14, 2012 11:35 pm
I respect your post to the fullest. You are telling the truth and I know it but thank you and as long as we fight together I feel the battle is half won and the lord have the rest.
Submitted by ICameToTeach (not verified) on December 12, 2012 10:29 pm
You can't believe the politics? Do you know who our governor is??? That's why we're in this mess. With a governor who doesn't support education as much as the prison system, what else can we expect?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 7:23 am
Philadelphia has been mismanaging its government for decades. That is why the state has control over schools. They were insolvent in 1999, despite Philly having some of the highest city taxes in the country. Now they are insolvent again, despite 100% funding increase per pupil over the last 13 years, much of it contributed by the state. Yet you still play the victim, blaming other people, anything but take some responsibility for the wretched Philadelphia Democratic machine which I can only assume you are a proud member of, one of the most corrupt, least effective governments in the US. But if you really need to blame someone, blame Philly's politicians 30 years ago who bloated up the city's workforce and then created our multi-billion dollar pension liability so they could buy the votes of city unions. Now the checks are coming due and there is no money. Your people could have spent more money for schools, or given the well-connected DROP. They could collect $500mm in past due property taxes, or they could let the corrupt city councilmen continue to exempt their deadbeat constituents from this basic civic duty. What did your people pick? If its deadbeat voters or students, you're people pick the deadbeats. Then you blame Corbett. Yes, it is unjust that kids today are paying for that sin. The sad fact is, kids don't vote. That means they are right behind middle-class taxpayers at the ass end of Philadlephia's interest group driven politics.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 8:57 am
Blame Rizzo for the bloated city work force - that was his way to getting votes.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 8:45 am
Your post is so full of misinformation it impossible to dissect. Compare Philadelphia funding with other districts in the state, especially high income districts, and you will see what has been going on. The state takeover ten years ago was never meant to deal with these problems, just set the District up for privatization. They failed with Edison so Vallas and Ackerman laid the groundwork for this in a more systematic way. Do you just make this information up to fit a preconceived objective like all the corporate reformers?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 14, 2012 6:05 pm
Ok, so I guess Philadelphia is actually a very well managed city that was doing a great job of running its school system too.Then a nefarious conspiracy of "corporate reformers" 10 years ago sought to usurp this crowning jewel of Philly governance for self enrichment. Not that any self-enrichment, self-dealing, or political corruption ever happened in the old City Council run school system. lol. I will recognize you at any meeting by your tinfoil hat, though you are anonymous. And stop complaining that Philly doesn't receive the same funding as Lower Merion, one of the wealthiest school districts in the world or similar districts. That is life. Also, these areas are so concentrated wealthy because your people drove so many businesses and high-income earners out there with Philly's stupid tax rates over the last 50 years. I sincerely hope that someone with such poor logical reasoning and historical understanding is not a teacher.
Submitted by Tanja Carter (not verified) on December 14, 2012 11:15 pm
We can debate all day long which will not solve the school closing issue, I am speaking out for our children and who ever can't understand this to bad! The fact of the matter is we are facing a big problem and solutions need to be sought so our children won't get the short end of the stick. i refuse to trade insults with anyone or be disrespectful because that is not in my nature however ignorance is one of the largest problems we face in this society. It is very clear that you are not a teacher.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 15, 2012 8:01 am
I'm lost and need clarity....who are "your people"?
Submitted by Tanja Carter (not verified) on December 13, 2012 11:18 am
Yeah I know who the jerk is and I am aware of the mess he made for the record when they say your vote count I did not vote for these problems nor did I vote for that prude. I am very mature and I don't normally call names but the thought of our children have to suffer for the foolishness.
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on December 15, 2012 8:58 am
The elections of 2010 allowed these cretins in.Hopefully, we shall have learned a hard lesson--elections matter.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 10:28 pm
It's got nthing to do with god but maybe something to do with teachers with poor grammar. O_o
Submitted by Tanja Carter (not verified) on December 13, 2012 11:53 am
I could be rude and say something bad in response to this reply but I am not like that however I will leave some food for thought. God created heaven and earth, he created human being and placed us on his face of the earth for a reason which some haven't found their purpose and been here for years any way. In these times we are facing a spiritual warfare and those who believe there is a God knows this. For the record I have over twenty years of hands on experience servicing children from all walks of life and I am a professional student majoring in social studies. One last thing I am also studying The Science of Education so a grammar glitch is not the worse I can do. The focus is the children and their education if we can work together instead of trying to insult one another half the battle would be won.
Submitted by Linda K. (not verified) on December 12, 2012 7:31 pm
The photo for this article is my former school, my first appointment after 3 years of long term substitute teaching and where I hung my hat for 18 years...George Wharton Pepper Middle......I left last year and while I miss my friends, it is good to be in a school where there are almost a 1000 kids ....just like it used to be at good old GW Pepper....
Submitted by anon (not verified) on December 12, 2012 8:22 pm
"But I think there’s an opportunity to focus the conversation … on redirecting resources into classrooms where they can be of the most benefit to the most students …. and how do we ensure that the schools that receive these students can best manage their arrival." - Mark Gleason and who chose mark gleason to be the broker and spokesperson for the future of philadelphia education? what a foul, rigged, dishonest process this has become. shame on the pols and hacks who have led us down this trail.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 9:40 pm
NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE have done this to ourselves. Our silence or overall timidity, has allowed these cretins to get away with it. The PFT is largely to blame as is Nutter, of course who is in the pocket of the Koch Bros. types. Nutter worries about Nutter, end of story. We have met the biggest enemy and it is WE for sitting back and trusting our so called leaders.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 14, 2012 6:36 pm
Nutter in the pocket of the Koch brothers. Seriously. What planet do you live on?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 14, 2012 6:24 pm
Skippy--Let me try to use smaller words. Nutter is securing his own future even at the expense of throwing his own people under the bus. He is doing the bidding of Corbett who is doing the bidding of ALEC, Koch Bros. and others of that ilk. It runs downhill like, well even you know......................well, maybe not you.
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on December 13, 2012 12:31 pm
How about redirecting money by NOT opening any more cyber charter schools? Most of the cyber charters are a joke.
Submitted by Brett (not verified) on December 12, 2012 9:36 pm
Can anybody report one way or the other about Motivation High School?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 9:11 pm
Motivation is not on the list.
Submitted by J.J. McHabe (not verified) on December 12, 2012 9:58 pm
Instead of being the gatekeeper of "the list" that was leaked to you, and giving out schools piece meal, why don't you post the entire list here?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 10:14 pm
The list is suppose to be a secret until tomorrow at 2pm. It appears I'm not the only one with the list because someone posted it below.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 9:05 pm
Does anyone know about Fairhill Elementary at 6th and somerset
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 9:15 pm
Is Fairhill Elementary on the list
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 9:28 pm
any one know what "standardization of grade levels" means?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 9:02 pm
Is Fairhill Elementary on the list
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 9:46 pm
Fairhill at 601 Somerset St. is on the list.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 9:37 pm
Does that mean we r screwed
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 9:28 pm
Does that mean we r being closed
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 9:24 pm
Fairhill, Fulton, Kinsey and Gompers is on the list to close.
Submitted by J (not verified) on December 12, 2012 9:49 pm
Which elementary schools!?!?!?! And what does consolidate mean? How will THAT work? And then the mess with forced transfers etc... And the PFT contract expires next year...who is staying in the District?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 9:00 pm
Taylor, Meade, Duckery are also on the list to close.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 9:45 pm
Is Lowell or Lawton on the list?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 9:52 pm
Pratt, Wilson, Pierce, Jay Cook, Smith, Wilson are on list to close. Lowell and Lawton are NOT on the list.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 9:57 pm
Is Lowell or Lawton or Spruance on the list?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 9:43 pm
None of the three schools you listed are on the list to close.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 10:44 pm
Spruance is NOT on the closure list.
Submitted by JakeL (not verified) on December 12, 2012 9:38 pm
As the barrage of comments come in tomorrow, those against the school closing should explain and propose alternative ideas. For example, Vaux HS, with capacity for over 1,000 students currently enrolls ~350. With its abysmal 90% failure rate in AYP and Renaissance dollars poured into it with little success, I don't see a whole lot of desire to keep it afloat. Those opposed to school closings: Why should we keep Vaux? I know that it's quoted that closing schools doesn't increase performance, but seriously, you think leaving Vaux opened is going to improve performance?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 9:50 pm
Vaux is slated as "program close" which means another school will relocate into the building under a different name.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 9:10 pm
Anyone know which other high schools are on the list?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 9:10 pm
Thanks for the information!
Submitted by Concerned Phila. (not verified) on December 12, 2012 10:20 pm
What about Furness? Southern?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 10:44 pm
Those two are NOT on the list.
Submitted by Concerned Phila. (not verified) on December 12, 2012 10:58 pm
This is the list for 2013. What about 2017?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 10:37 pm
Is hopkinson on the list?
Submitted by Concerned Phila. (not verified) on December 12, 2012 10:54 pm
If the schools are concentrated in North Philly, the assumption must be that charters in this area will expand (e.g. Congresso's charter - Ramos supporter; Walter Palmer - "We are no longer under investigation" - expanded already to K-12; others?) Wilson is in West Philly - next to Univ. of Sciences (who I assume could use the building along with Penn). Some of the North Philly schools are near Temple but not all of them. IS Performing Arts going to have to move their 1400 seat high school (granted by the SRC last spring) to North Philly or are they going to open in South Philly and add another performing arts schools in an area full of music programs? I'm posing questions because there has to be some rationale for closings other than enrollment, test scores and building condition. Is Hite following the Boston Consulting Group/Mark Gleason/Scott Gordon/Nowak's plan?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 10:52 pm
This is crazy! All of the middle grade students in SW @ Tilden is going to be a disaster. Tilden's building is a hot mess. Pepper is the newest building with the best facilities. I cannot believe that the people in charge would not give the students the best building in SW and that making a dollar is more important than providing the students with a beautiful school with a huge amount of resources. Tilden needs millions to be renovated to accommodate the amount of students from Pepper and Shaw. Pepper needs minimal work, has a gorgeous gym, football field, tennis courts, baseball/softball fields, 1 million square feet, a beautiful auditorium, fitness center, full cafeteria, science labs, music center, art rooms, community rooms, rooms designed for MDS students, ramps, elevators, beautiful grounds and a garden. The district should be ashamed of themselves for not giving the students in SW an opportunity to utilize a beautiful school like Pepper. Once again, the money means more to the district than the students not to mention the mixing of three different neighborhoods with existing hostilities with 35+ students in each class.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 10:03 pm
Pepper needs a lot of work and the infrastructure is horrible. It looks like a dungeon. It will cost the district too much money to repair.
Submitted by Linda K. (not verified) on December 13, 2012 9:58 pm
Pepper had has mold on the ground floor, floods on the ground floor when the drains get filled, has no doorbell, problems often with the elevators.....repairs on the door locks and ballasts for lights are always needed.....as for the ramps they are the main reason the school has stayed ope due to the MDS students who need the ramps. The district stopped repair work sometime ago...as a former building rep at that school until last year, letters were sent by school admin and the building committee for pot hole repair,l heating repair, lights, locks and a host of other items...what really is funny is that new boilers were installed and now I see why...prep of building sale....you are right, the city would be better served with the use of the park facilites [those play areas are not SDP]
Submitted by Concerned Phila. (not verified) on December 12, 2012 10:35 pm
Whoever has the list, publish it already. Members of City Council saw it today - I assume they were "consulted." People at 440 must have it. Any charters on the list? There are charters with lousy records that should be closed. Do you hear me Mr. Gleason?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 11:20 pm
Charters are not on the list.
Submitted by Concerned Phila. (not verified) on December 12, 2012 11:53 pm
Why not? There are "poorly performing" charters.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 10:16 pm
Leeds Military Acad 9-12 program relocation Washington George k-8 program close Wilson Alexander k-6 close Cooke Jay k-8 close Reynolds Gen John k-8 close Duckerey Tanner k-8 close Meade Gen George k-8 close Vare Abigail k-8 program relocation Smith k-8 close Bok Tech 9-12 close Ferguson Joseph k-8 close Lankenau 9-12 relocate program Overbrook k-5 close Elverson Military Acad 9-12 close Pratt Anna k-6 close Peirce Thomas k-6 close Vaux 9-12 program close Morris Robert k-8 close Carroll Charles 9-12 close Pepper George 5-8 close Whittier John k-6 close Hill Leslie k-8 close Strawberry Mansion 9-12 close AMY at Martin 6-8 program relocation University City 9-12 close Taylor Bayard k-5 close Sheridan West Academy 6-8 close Germantown 9-12 close Robeson 9-12 close Roosevelt Theodore 7-8 program closure Shaw Anna 7-8 close Gompers Samuel k-6 close Fulton Robert k-6 close Fairhill k-8 close Kinsey John k-8 close Parkway Northwest 9-12 program relocation Lamberton ROber 9-12 close Communications Technology 9-12 close McCloskey John k-5 close Fels Samuel 7-8 close
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on December 13, 2012 12:31 am
If this list is correct, then it's no surprise that some of these schools will close. The Facilities Master Plan mentions closing schools like Overbrook Elementary and Lamberton.
Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 1:02 am
Yes, but did the Facilities Master Plan mention that the District would spend $2 million to replace the roof on Overbrook Elementary in the Fall of 2012? Now why would a District that is $300 million dollars in debt spend $2 million dollars to replace a roof on a building when they have every intention of closing it at the end of the school year. Hmmm.....
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 5:28 am
Lamberton isn't closing - it will keep the K-8 but close 9-12 (which I believe is on one floor). Overbrook Elementary maybe is going to a charter if the SDP is replacing the roof...
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 10:51 pm
Leeds Military Acad 9-12 program relocation Washington George k-8 program close Wilson Alexander k-6 close Cooke Jay k-8 close Reynolds Gen John k-8 close Duckerey Tanner k-8 close Meade Gen George k-8 close Vare Abigail k-8 program relocation Smith k-8 close Bok Tech 9-12 close Ferguson Joseph k-8 close Lankenau 9-12 relocate program Overbrook k-5 close Elverson Military Acad 9-12 close Pratt Anna k-6 close Peirce Thomas k-6 close Vaux 9-12 program close Morris Robert k-8 close Carroll Charles 9-12 close Pepper George 5-8 close Whittier John k-6 close Hill Leslie k-8 close Strawberry Mansion 9-12 close AMY at Martin 6-8 program relocation University City 9-12 close Taylor Bayard k-5 close Sheridan West Academy 6-8 close Germantown 9-12 close Robeson 9-12 close Roosevelt Theodore 7-8 program closure Shaw Anna 7-8 close Gompers Samuel k-6 close Fulton Robert k-6 close Fairhill k-8 close Kinsey John k-8 close Parkway Northwest 9-12 program relocation Lamberton ROber 9-12 close Communications Technology 9-12 close McCloskey John k-5 close Fels Samuel 7-8 close
Submitted by Concerned Phila. (not verified) on December 12, 2012 11:50 pm
I don't get Strawberry Mansion. It is a newer building, the student body just expanded by including Rhodes and Fitzsimons. Where will these students go and what will happen to the Hill/Mansion building? This is not a gentrified area. Are more charters moving in?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 11:04 pm
The rationale for closing Strawberry Mansion is the building itself. About a year ago, I was walking outside of Strawberry Mansion when I saw a group of approximately seven persons with out of state license plates walking outside the building. These persons were taking pictures of the building and filming the building. One of them approached me and asked if it were true that the building houses an elementary school, a middle school and a high school. I immediately thought, "charter school". These people are thinking that the Strawberry Mansion building would make a perfect school. They could get all grades in one building. I now know that my thinking was on the mark.
Submitted by Concerned Phila. (not verified) on December 13, 2012 12:51 am
So, Mr. Gleason/SRC/Nutter/Nowak, etc. are going to charterize the schools (Hill, Mansion) and create so called "high performing seats?" Will this go to Universal? Mastery? What a mess!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 1:46 am
Mansion doesn't house those 3 schools, just Mansion H.S. since Fitz is closed and Rhodes is a 7-8th middle school (adding 6th next year). Mansion's current population is about 400 in comparison to back in the days of 1000+ students. The building has some great renovations inside, but structurally it isn't as a great.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 5:38 am
Students from Fitzsimons and Rhodes (9-11) had the option for the 2012-2013 school year to go to Strawberry Mansion. The schools were combined. Now Rhodes will be K-8. Fitzsimons has been turned into a KIPP charter school.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 7:08 am
I am staff at Rhodes and we were 7-12th like Fitz, and yes our high school students had the option to go to Mansion. And we're pretty confident we will not be converting to a K-8, just adding a 6th grade which we have been informed of and preparing for for 2 years now.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 8:22 am
You haven't read the document. Your school is slated to become a K-8.
Submitted by Linda K. (not verified) on December 13, 2012 9:00 pm
I almost got a job there but was not so keen when told it was no longer going to be a highschool...at that time I was told 7- and then 6-8 .....I see the story changes....
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 11:27 pm
Things are pretty quiet on here since the list was published.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 12, 2012 11:19 pm
There is no Samuel Fels 7-8! Fels hasn't been a middle school for over 20 years. Fels is a 9-12 in a building less than 4 years old. The old building was being used by Carnell k-8 to house middle grades and was recently said to be closing for repairs. Carnell has more kids in it than most high schools in the city and the NE is bursting at the seams, so where would those 2 grades go?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 5:32 am
All School District employees were sent the closure / reassignment list via Dr. Hite's email at 2:38 AM. The letter even includes a glossary! The email also states everyone is welcome to watch the announcement at 2:00 pm. Tricky while teaching but...
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 7:12 am
how will this effect teachers at these schools? what will the process look like for them to get new positions
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 15, 2012 9:24 am
Right-to-returns are honored first, followed by right-to-follows (which are honored if a minimum of 25 students from a closing program/school are reassigned to any of the schools listed for accepting them based on the student transfer requests that parents will be asked to submit if, in fact, parents get to make such choices or the district will automatically place students at their new school). So, 100 students reassigned to the receiving school allows four teachers to follow based on teacher seniority and the preferences and area of appointment on the right-to-follow request. Teachers do not have to complete a right-to-follow request.. It's an option for non-specialist teachers if they want to follow students to a receiving school, and the requests are honored based on seniority. All staff will take their building seniority with them as they will all be considered forced transfers. Teachers may site select starting in May when the vacancy list is published if they don't have their right-to-follow request honored before the vacancy list is published, or they can wait till the forced transfer sessions begin in June after the site selection process ends and choose then. Teachers would need to rescind a right-to-follow request if they secure a position via the site selection or forced transfer process because such a request remains active until leveling occurs around Oct. 1. Also, a teacher's area of appointment is also a factor on the right-to-follow request. Support staff follow a different process. Pretty sure support staff just select a school at a forced transfer session starting in June. That's how I remember the process at the end is the 2011-2012 school year after the first round of program closures. Each closure or reconfiguration may result in different processes this time around. Feel free to correct me if anything is incorrect. Human Resources/Staffing are very helpful during the process. Great people!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 7:22 am
No one will be untouched by these closings. If they have to layoff people it will be according to system seniority. This will affect administrators, teachers and paraprofessionals. Just because your school isn't slated to close, doesn't mean you may have a secure position. This is tough!!!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 7:15 am
According to Hite, no teachers will be laid off as a result of this process but some principals and cleaning personnel will lose their jobs.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 7:34 am
Where did he say all the teaching staff will work?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 8:03 am
There are going to be cuts - there are less students. I assume class sizes will go up to at least 33 and programs will be cut. The District also will not save $30 plus million with the closings. Guess who they will look to to get more money. We know they want $158 Million in savings from teachers - I think this is just the beginning.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 8:23 am
When did Hite say no teachers will be laid off?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 9:33 am
It's on Philly.com in an article on the closings
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 7:40 pm
Hite told the principals today, he was misquoted. He said "minimal" teachers should be laid off due to the 1000 teachers that are lost every year to resignations and retirements.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 7:47 pm
I work at one of the high schools slated to close. Hite just sent us a letter regarding the closure, saying "this decision may impact your employment status."
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 8:39 pm
Oh wow, no one knows what to believe at this point. It's a wait and see game. I'm sure all this uncertainty will not help test scores for the closing schools.
Submitted by Linda K. (not verified) on December 13, 2012 10:46 am
Well,as a former member of GW Pepper, once we had hurricane Flloyd and then a succession of poor regional and a weak male school administrator added to a suffering economy, the school slowly sank in to disrepair. Buckets on every floor to catch the rain since the building was built, air ducts that were not cleaned, and in my former room mold from "repair" due to the initial flood and the several mini floods after that. The pot holes got so big last year I had to write on behalf of the building committe an email asking when were the craters being removed. The cleaning staff often consisted of one person....down from the 4 person day staff that used to be there some 19 years ago. The lunch room kitchen closed.....I had to make another request for the fire alarm to be repaired [nothing worked on the ground floor south side] Suddenly, it became too much to even have busses for the kids even though we had a football field, baseball field and basketball courts all right there. My friends were hoping for it to stay open....the next 10 will be at my new school where I find in may ways it is like Pepper used to be.....full and a brimming with students. The closings have to be done. Buildings are like people, they get wear and tear....unlike people, buildings can not go to the doctor for a check up and get medicine....Pepper is a Deconstructionist building of the NEO art period....it will be sold...I will be sad to see the beautiful mosaic tile mural my kids did highlighting all of the trips my friends and I had to NYC, Balt. DC and Amish country... Life goes on Linda K. former art teacher at GWP
Submitted by PepperGal (not verified) on December 13, 2012 6:50 pm
Linda K, I agree with you. It's a shame that Pepper was never built nor repaired "with fidelity." We have beautiful grounds. Once again, the adults have failed the students. SMH PS- Any ESOL openings at your school? ;)
Submitted by Linda K. (not verified) on December 13, 2012 9:46 pm
Hey ESOL Gal.....keep your eyes open for Juniata...it is growing and there are a lot of ESOL students here...if you are who I Think, then a GREAT word will be said by me to the P and the AP...... Linda K.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 10:58 pm
Shhhhh! Never say good things. It puts the school on the radar.
Submitted by Linda K. (not verified) on December 13, 2012 11:36 pm
and at this rate it has not helped to keep it open has it?.....smile
Submitted by Valerie F.Leonard (not verified) on December 26, 2012 11:34 pm
You think it's bad in Philadelphia, Chicago is reportedly set to close up to 120 schools. Is Philadelphia part of the Gates District Charter Compact? The Gates Foundation generally requires school districts to close the bottom 25% of their public schools and prioritize turning over buildings to charter schools. In return, school districts can compete for up to $7 million in funds for operations and professional development for charters, and up to $20 million for capital funds for charter schools. Chicago has signed onto the Gates Compact. Chicago and Gates just came to a mutual agreement not to get $4 million Chicago requested this funding round, due to the high turnover in our Chicago Public Schools leadership and management ranks. They said they want to give the new CEO time to get acclimated to her job. Chicago will be eligible to compete for $20 million this spring for capital dollars for charter schools. Basically, Chicago has sold out African American communities around the city, causing major disruptions to the education and financial viability of communities that are already in distress--for less than the cost of 1 school. The funds from the Gates Foundation will make up less than 1/2 of 1% of the Chicago Public Schools budget, and won't begin to put a dent in the Schools' budget deficit. The financial data they are using to justify the decision don't seem to be consistent with the financial statements in the public schools' operating and capital budgets. The utilization statistics have been found to be fraught with errors and the methodology does not seem to be easily applied across the board. It's unfortunate that the due diligence required to sell municipal bonds far exceeds what is necessary to cause major upheaval in African American communities, the impact of which could last for years to come.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 27, 2012 12:17 am
And just like in Philadelphia, in Chicago it is being done by stealth and deception. If this is democratic and for the good of the community, why must the corporate reformers lie, cheat, and steal to close public schools and open charters? http://my.chicagotribune.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-73748664/
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 31, 2012 8:19 pm
This is definitely a disaster waiting to happen! I think these parents to to stand up for what's right and make sure their children gets top notch education instead of these top notch clothing and electronics! I really don't understand how schools are being closed but detention centers are being built! WAKEUP people! If we don't care about our children's lives who will? The system is made so that kids in urban areas never stand a chance and eventually kill each other off!What are they doing with the philly budget!? I don't understand! Is education not priority? It so sad and it breaks my heart to know how brainwashed not only our city but country is to the fact that we are modern day slaves and people continue not to stand up for what is right !I know Jesus Christ will take care of all his children but please people just open your eyes!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 25, 2013 12:20 pm
And it is about to get worse with sequester. We are dooming the next generation and beyond. Not with deficits but with their future and the ability to earn a decent living.
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