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Hite releases school-closing plan

By the Notebook on Dec 13, 2012 10:47 AM

Superintendent William Hite early this morning announced his school-closing plan in an email to District personnel.

The 12-page document identifies 44 schools that will be either closed or relocated to new buildings; 37 facilities will be shuttered. The document details the reassignment plan for students at each of the schools.

In addition, three middle schools will become K-8 schools, and 19 elementary and middle schools will see changes to their grade configuration.

Full details of the plan are expected to be announced at a 2 p.m. press conference. The School Reform Commission is expected to make final decisions on the recommendations in March.

The final list of closing recommendations includes some schools that were not on a list obtained and published by some media outlets.

Hite's email follows:

Dear Colleagues,

I decided to join The School District of Philadelphia this fall as superintendent because of the potential to create a better-run, safer and higher-performing system. Above all, I believe that every child can succeed. By keeping the focus on students' needs, outcomes and hopes, I feel that we can bring families, educators and supporters together around the common goal of preserving and improving public education in this city.

To meet this goal, we must achieve two objectives: improve learning opportunities for all our students and overcome massive financial challenges. We are, as you know, facing tough times that require even tougher choices. On Thursday afternoon, I will release a plan detailing the steps that must be taken to put us on the road towards long-term academic success and financial stability. It is a plan that focuses on better harnessing our resources to provide safer, stronger schools for all our families.

This will involve consolidating programs, expanding efforts to turn around chronically low-performing schools, and closing aging school buildings. This will also involve channeling investments into schools more effectively. We are making these changes because we believe they will result in a system that better serves all students, families and stakeholders.

You can download a complete list of the recommendations at: http://www.philasd.org/announcements/FMP_summary_of_recommendations.docx

In addition, PSTV will air the press conference live at 2 p.m. on Comcast (channel 52), Verizon Fios (channel 20) and online at http://www.philasd.org/stream. I encourage you to review the recommendations and watch the press conference to learn more about the timeline for the coming months. In addition, over the course of Thursday and Friday, we will be communicating individually with the staff and parents at schools affected by the recommendations.

I am tremendously grateful for the guidance and input you have provided so far as we collectively determine our best path forward; I am tremendously grateful for your work every day. As an educator and parent, I know that this will be an extremely challenging time for our students, families and colleagues. I appreciate your continued commitment to our students, and your patience and cooperation as we work through these recommendations.


Respectfully,

Dr. William R. Hite
Superintendent

 

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Comments (38)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 9:20 am
Absolute Power corrupts absolutely.
Submitted by Zach Morris (not verified) on December 13, 2012 9:31 am
Glad that Bayside isn't closing. However, it is interesting that those "holders of the list" last night weren't completely accurate. LOL. Gotta love trolls.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 11:52 am
We were told the list changed last night. The list posted was pretty accurate other than one school.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 10:58 am
Zoom in (move the slider to +) on the map and notice that the schools being set up for charters are all in low income neighborhoods. Interesting there is an ad for PA Cyber Charter Schools on the website that has the map. http://www.elc-pa.org/cybercharter_alert.html http://yinzercation.wordpress.com/2012/11/26/talking-turkey-about-charters/
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Submitted by Katie (not verified) on December 13, 2012 10:20 am
This is so frustrating. Kids will be less able to walk to school. Parents will be less involved as distance divides residential areas from the campus. The schools that are not closing will struggle to make room for new students- while they already struggle to get up to speed with the students they have. And all of this from a school district that lost control over its own budget due to educational failings- and then a state seizure that saw school budgets further slashed. Are we really going to treat the next generation as a line item? Is streamlining the educational budget at the expense of education really worth it? I am disgusted... and policies like this will only further distance middle class families from the public school system- those who can afford private school educations- will buy them... leaving the rest in sub-par, prison-like holding institutions.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 11:01 am
"and policies like this will only further distance middle class families from the public school system- those who can afford private school educations- will buy them... leaving the rest in sub-par, prison-like holding institutions." That is the ultimate purpose of the ALEC inspired corporate reform of education.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 12:10 pm
As they say, it's a feature, not a bug.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 11:36 am
What will happen to the teachers of the closing school?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 12:36 pm
Who cares!!!!! (PFT MEMBER)
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 12:09 pm
Excuse me, I care because I am a teacher of one of the closing schools. A damn good one who goes above and beyond for my students. So I care a lot what is happening to my students, my coworkers and even my principals because they have created a school built around family and trust and now it's going to be ripped away from us. So yes, I care a lot.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 1:37 pm
I support what you say. My comment was sarcastic. You didn't "read between the lines." I was also subjected to being a teacher banished from a closing school two years ago. I know EXACTLY how it feels. That's why I signed it PFT MEMBER.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 1:00 pm
It's hard to read sarcasm on the internet :)
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 4:12 pm
Being banished from your school is VERY VERY difficult. You are going to go through a terrible emotional time -- an experience that you will not be able to describe to anyone else. Only your colleagues will understand. I got through it and landed on my feet. I wish you well.
Submitted by LS Teach (not verified) on December 13, 2012 1:08 pm
For school consolidating to new sites, will those teachers have the option of following their students to the new site? or will everyone be forced transferred?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 3:56 pm
If a school is full site selection the teachers can not voluntarily follow their students unless they are site selected. The teachers who aren't site selected will be forced transferred.
Submitted by David Ferris (not verified) on December 13, 2012 1:06 pm
Thank you!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 1:18 pm
What worries me is that this only closes $30 million of the $200 plus million deficit. They will be coming after the PFT for major concessions for the rest. That would equal about 17K per teacher per year in lost salary and benefits.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 2:28 pm
Dr. Hite just said it is a savings of about 28 million per year. Not 28 million one time. Hopefully, this "savings" will be remembered and maintained each year in the budget so that we can make up the gap over the next 6-7 years with no other issues or cuts.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 2:28 pm
The deficit is $200 Million per year. Not one time. 200-30=170. That is what is left to be balanced on the backs of the teachers. The maintenance union already took their cuts, schools are being closed, and there is no more money coming from Harrisburg or the city. That leaves teachers. Either concessions to save jobs or another round of layoffs.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 1:11 pm
Once you post a message, it is not necessary to post again even if it does not appear immediately. Some messages take a minute or two to post, probably because the Notebook is experiencing heavy traffic.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 3:14 pm
When the school district is that much in debt, how you feel about it really doesn't matter. This is an absolutely necessary measure or they may have to privatize education in Philadelphia. Don't blame Dr. Hite - he's a good guy who's trying to keep the school district alive. Blame Dr. Ackerman and everyone else who came before and screwed everything up so royally.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 3:58 pm
How about all the high ranking officials cut their salaries by 50% and see the savings that produces? Most of us working class people have had to deal with the same measures and have been told it's the economy so deal with it!
Submitted by Mayday (not verified) on December 13, 2012 4:05 pm
Absolutely. Hite is making 400K a year - more than Ackerman. Superfluous assistant superintendents/chiefs/etc.are being hired at 440 yet again from the ol' boys/girls networks. (Ed Williams, go AWAY already, will you?) PSD always has been, and continues to be, corrupt. How about the higher level administrators take a pay freeze (or...horrors!...reduction?) How about ridding ourselves of the million-dollar consultants? Yes, some closures are necessary, but this plan will destroy whole neighborhoods. When the fat cats make some concessions themselves, then talk to us about austerity measures. This situation is just a microcosm of the Fiscal Cliff scenario.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 4:30 pm
CASA union members did take a pay freeze last year. The only union who has NOT given concessions is PFT, which by the way has the largest union membership. Non union employees at 440 had their pay cut and they had to take furlough days. Before you start saying what administration needs to do, please investigate to find out what they have already done.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 5:02 pm
PFT gave about $38 million from our Health and Welfare fund to the School District. That is a give back.
Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 8:41 pm
CASA members increased their salaries significantly when Ackerman changed their positions from 10 to 12 months. Then money ran out for summer school programs, and all principals remained 12 month employees. Why?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 8:11 pm
If they don't remain 12 months, they must be paid for all days worked in August and the days worked during summer programs. People forget the ESY programs are mandated in addition to the other grant funded summer programs that take place during July. A large majority of administrators take their vacations in July. This past summer was the first summer there was no curriculum summer program. The district stated they did a comparison to see if going back to 10 months would save money and the research showed no substantial savings. Principals asked Ackerman about changing them back to 10 months when concessions were asked of unions. Additionally, not all administrators are 12 months.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 10:09 pm
Yeah like Hite giving non-union members administrators the raises last month. If there is no money in the budget then why give those raises to 25 people???? Let's see....there is no money for NTA's in the schools so they took them away, then took away our teaching assistants because of no money, then got rid of the balanced literacy intern program because of no money, the nurses are gone, no money, and most schools don't have operating libraries. Hmmm. but they give raises to 25 non-union school district employees. The PFT gave 38 million in concessions in the health and welfare fund deal. Face it--no one is lining up to teach here!!! In other countries teachers are idolized. Most teachers have Master's Degrees or Doctorate Degrees. We earn our pay every single day. We see children who are sent to school hungry and children whose PARENTS are not involved in their child's lives. Teachers deserve pay raises. Oh one more thing---take into account that teachers pay for most of their classroom supplies. While I spend $700 to $1000 each year for supplies for my classroom (which the District gives a lousy $100 voucher and should have supplies on hand), my friend in Plymouth Whitemarsh gets a $1000 stipend for school supplies. If the SRC thinks they are going to offer a 5 year contract with no raise think again. Once that contract expires then we will take the steps that the Chicago Teachers Union has.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 5:14 pm
Actually, Hite's contact is for $300,000 a year, 14% less than Ackerman's base salary. He didn't make the mess. Honestly (not speaking politically, just objectively), if the next 2-3 years don't see massive layoffs and even more closures, it will be fairly miraculous. Cutting admin pay is a popular target, but it does almost nothing to fix the budget. Hite and his team could work for free and it would only save a few million dollars, total. A $5,000 cut in teacher pay would save $55+ million. I'm not saying we should cut teacher pay (it should be raised, if possible), but it's a scale thing. Every dollar to a teacher gets multiplied by 11,000. Every dollar to Hite gets multiplied by 1.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 5:23 pm
Hite's contract includes bonuses - 20% - so he potentially will earn more than Ackerman who left with $348,000 plus all the perks/benefits.
Submitted by Tara (not verified) on December 13, 2012 5:36 pm
I understand that reducing administration's pay will not really make a dent in the budget deficit. However, PFT members know our contract is the next thing the PSD will be going after. If we are going to be expected to take a pay cut, then our leadership should be willing to take the same reduction in their salary too.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 4:05 pm
Unfortunately, even if the whole higher level worked for free, it would save less than closing one or two schools. The proper compensation for administrators can be debated, but it's more of a symbolic issues in a district like this. When your budget is in the billions, a few hundred thousand to administrators makes very little difference in the big picture. Proportionate to its size SDP admins are actually paid quite a bit less than other districts. (Many suburban superintendents, with 10 schools in the whole district make as much a high level SDP administrator). So, when considering that the SPD is 10x larger than most suburban district, admin pay in Philly is even more out of whack, compared to suburbs, than teacher pay is. The place Philly is actually very out-of-line is facilities expenses. Maintenance/custodial work are a bigger part of the school budget in Philly than almost any other city in the nation.
Submitted by www.lafriteusesanshuile.com (not verified) on September 7, 2013 8:13 am
Youu are so awesome! I don't suppose I have read anything like this before. So nice to discover somebody with some unique thoughts on this topic. Really.. thanks for starting this up. This website is something that is needed on the internet, someone with a little originality!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 4:42 pm
This is the beginning of the end for the district schools. Now more and more kids will flock to charters and there will be more district closures in a downward spiral. Well, it was a great gig while it lasted.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 5:52 pm
This is definitely the end of the road for me. I came to the profession full of hope. I have truly given 100% ever since. I've given up prep periods to cover classes, not asked to be reimbursed for any expenses (including those from the extra curricular club that I run for free) and generally believe I will leave my school better than I found it. I love the people with whom I work, and I even genuinely enjoy most of my students. I've endured witnessed the District do everything humanly possible to drain any sense of loyalty or hope from the teachers who give so much in return. Yet, even though my school isn't destined for close, I cannot personally endure the stress, attacks and general abuse anymore. It is truly killing my soul. Great employees cannot persist in an environment like the District creates without significantly lowering theft expectations. At the end of this year, I will sadly, but with no regret, bid my farewell to a place that could have been great, but at the end of the day, simply wasn't. Importantly, a place that displays absolutely no signs of being even half as committed to student success as most of us bring to bear every day. I wish I could do more, but at some point, you have to leave the abusive relationship.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 13, 2012 6:15 pm
So what will you do for work?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 15, 2012 2:27 pm
I understand the need to better utilize the shrinking pool of funds that are available to the district. Closing facilities saves on facility maintenance and approximately $400,000.00 for Principals and Vice Principal salaries alone. The timelines of the announcement may have a lot to do with the reaction. An accouncement like this that comes at a time when society is "leaning forward", such as the beginning of the new year is viewed as change for the better. Also, if the reasoning for the closings or transitions were stated as to facilitate greater educational value, raise enrollment, graduation and college acceptance rates while decreasing facility and administrative costs, we would have a different reaction. Providing information on what alternatives will be available or the introduction of a new Academy into the area would have been better recieved. In the Strawberry Mansion area for example, a Media, Recording and Electronics Technology Academy would do very well. The priary interests of youth in this area center around health care, music/media and basketball. The introduction of an academy that sets a grade point average for enrollment and core subject areas with an ethical code addressing the quality and standards of production, I think, would be sucessful. If you think about it, the youth here have the capacity to memorize and write lyrics and music for which they retain the knowledge of and can perform on request. They have the capacity and skill to learn, we are just not offering much of what they are interested in learning (in some cases). Youth tend to do better in all areas of learning when they are offered a balance of what is required and what sparks their interest. There are programs that offer that balance, such as JROTC. Programs like this should be embraced and used to model effective teaching and learning relationships. Lastly, society can relate to the language of spending better than they can relate to the language of saving. Announcing some proposals for spending some of what is anticipated to be saved due to closures would have been recieved well. People tend to buy into plans when they know they come away from the table with an equitable "piece of the pie". I am by no means an expert on this subject and I don't have any insider information. However, I know that people will support the decisions of those who have a genuine concern about their children's education and those who offer hope for the future of that education.

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