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'We will not let Germantown die,' say alumni in face of School District proposal

By the Notebook on Dec 19, 2012 01:31 PM
Photo: Bas Slabbers for NewsWorks

Flyers were handed out to spread the word about upcoming events.

by Aaron Moselle, for NewsWorks

The Germantown High School community is gearing up to fight the School District of Philadelphia's recommendation to close the nearly century-old institution.

Less than a week after the news broke, parents, alumni, students and staff gathered at Germantown's hulking High Street building to kick-start what is expected to be a multi-month push to keep the school open.

"We will not let Germantown High School die," said state Rep.-elect Stephen Kinsey, a 1976 graduate, during Wednesday night's meeting.

Principal Margaret Mullen-Bavwidinsi made an appearance, but declined to comment as she has since the announcement was made.

Mobilizing efforts

Citing declining enrollment and poor academic performance, the District recommended Thursday that Germantown close at the end of this academic year. A total of 44 schools across the city may close or relocate as part of the District's ongoing Facilities Master Plan, a right-sizing effort aimed, in part, at addressing substantial budget woes.

Post-closure, GHS students would go to either Martin Luther King High, its rival on the other side of the neighborhood, or Roxborough High.

Germantown enrolls just 676 students, less than half of the school's student capacity. In 2010, the school had 943 students on the books, according to the District website.

The Northwest Philadelphia school has also consistently failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress, a measurement of student performance tied to the federal No Child Left Behind Act, but supporters have cited recent improvements and a changing academic culture inside the building.

During an emotional meeting, organizers focused largely on one message: All hands on deck.

Continue reading this story at NewsWorks

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Comments (4)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 19, 2012 1:51 pm
If they won't let it die, then let them pony up the money to keep it open. The magical money tree is bare. How many of these people pay property taxes? Income taxes?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 19, 2012 2:55 pm
Exactly. As the phrase goes, "put up or shut up."
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 28, 2012 11:32 am
It does not make fiscal sense to keep Germantown open. Deal with it.
Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on December 28, 2012 4:03 pm
There are other options - I'll post this again because I think it is a viable option: I do not think cohabitation for charters and District schools is a healthy model. (I also read Helen's review of NYC's experience.) I think there is the option of cohabitation of District schools. Apparently, Lankenau will share space with Roxborough. (Lakenau used to be part of Germantown). Kensington Urban Ed and Kensginton Business share a building. Doesn't MYA and Parkway West share a building? I'd propose that other schools share space/ programs (e.g. gym, cafeteria, auditorium, some courses, sports ) if there is a way to ensure that both schools have access to a structurally sound and well resources/renovated building. For example, why not have Furness and Academy at Palumbo share a building? Academy at Palumbo received $25 million in renovations. Both schools are in the same catchment. This way, the schools could also have some joint classes (e.g. AP courses, music program, etc.) Palumbo and Furness already share some athletic teams (football, girls soccer, girls basketball, etc.) Why not combine Bodine and Constitution in the same building? (Neither current location is big enough). They share athletic teams, the themes are compatible, etc. Why not have SLA move to Ben Franklin or University City? (SLA is going to be with Powell for middle school - Drew is in Univ. City's backyard.) I am sure someone else can come up with viable options for cohabitation of District schools. Remember, Northeast and Washington High Schools kept their internal magnet programs after Vallas nearly doubled the number of high schools by creating many small (mostly special admit) high schools. These programs were taken out of other neighborhood high schools. By sharing a building, the special admit schools keep their admission requirements (just like Northeast) but the students at least get to "co-learn" in music, AP course, sports, etc.

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