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District shares the rationale behind each school-closing recommendation

By Dale Mezzacappa on Jan 16, 2013 11:47 AM

At the three regional community meetings held so far on school closings, the District has been displaying information explaining the reasons for each decision.

On Wednesday morning, officials shared three PowerPoint presentations and they have posted them on the District website. (The presentation for the Northwest planning area can be viewed below, and the two North-Central region presentations can be found here and here.) 

Normally, at the beginning of the legally mandated 90-day period between an announcement and the actual vote, the District would have held individual school meetings with all this information. But, officials said, because of the sheer number of recommended closings -- 37 -- as well as other changes that will impact the grade configurations of additional schools, the School Reform Commission invoked its special powers to streamline the public engagement process.

The information includes enrollment trends, utilization rate, and achievement levels at each school, but not the relative condition of the facility. It also does not include the achievement levels of the schools to which the displaced students are being assigned. By "rightsizing" the District, officials say, they will be able to improve the educational experience of each child.

The first meeting at Dobbins High School was the most crowded and raucous, with nearly 1,000 people. Subsequent meetings at Edison and Martin Luther King High Schools drew fewer attendees, but at both, speakers passionately defended individual schools.

Six more regional meetings are scheduled between Jan. 22 and 30, at which time the District will release the information for each area. There will be a total of 16 additional meetings before the SRC takes a final vote in March. 



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Comments (5)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 16, 2013 1:50 pm
Is the SRC still going to hold hearings on each individual school before voting or has that been "streamlined" as well?
Submitted by Katie (not verified) on January 16, 2013 1:10 pm
It's as if the School District is doubling down on their failed mega-school experiment... if the school is under-enrolled because students and parents do not want mega-schools- it gets closed and there is no school in its place- not even an appropriately-sized school. Also- student performance is 25% of the consideration- and the facility is 75%???? This should not be how we make decisions about the future for our children. The school performance should matter far more. This format also suggests that schools that spend more per student are more likely to be closed... like Penn Alexander?
Submitted by garth (not verified) on January 16, 2013 3:17 pm
Why doesn't the SRC have to say what exactly their plans are for each closing school? The number of charter schools in Philadelphia is increasing each year, and at least half of the closing public schools will quickly re-open as charters. The overall trend from public to charter is obvious to everyone, and the charter operators certainly know which schools have nice facilities and can be purchased at low prices. But for a parent with a child at just of the closing schools, how can those parents possibly foresee what is going to happen next to that particular school or in that one neighborhood. As a long-time PSD parent, I think the entire process seems both misleading and unfair. If it's only a temporary closure, admit that upfront in the school closing meetings, The new charters in the old public schools shouldn't be a big surprise or a sudden change in strategy later this year.
Submitted by Timothy Boyle on January 16, 2013 5:32 pm

I would like to see FCI numbers and operating costs along with academic performance and utlization on these slides. Most importantly, while information is given, it hard to make complete comparisions between schools without knowing how each school ranks both overall and within each catagorey. What kind of "score" does a school get for being in Warning vs. Corrective Action II 8th year for instance? With that grain-level of knowledge I could support closing a school with very poor operational costs/utilization/FCI. 

I also don't think instructional costs should be paired with operating costs. One would assume that instrutional costs will travel with students under this plan. I don't really understand how an instructional cost could be stranded in an under-enrolled school. With .2/.4/.5/.6 positions I don't think there are many schools that have too many bodies in the school. While you might not be able to buy exactly 31 copies of material "x", there is no gurantee that resources will be better allocatted to larger buildings. Bigger schools allow for a greater pooling of funding, but I wonder how much difference it will make. Actual funding scenarios for a feeder pattern could make an interesting arguement for shifting kids around, but I haven't seen them. 

With many education interested organizations calling for total support of the FMP plan, I wonder how many of them really understand the level of nuance needed with the data, and whether they actually want to understand.

Submitted by Phantom Poster (not verified) on January 17, 2013 8:57 pm
I miss the days of squabbling with the Board of Ed. The loss of local control of schools led to the downsizing of public ed and the supersizing of schemes to divert public funds into private hands. Local control is the only way out - but by then the only thing left will be hope.

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