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Countdown, Day 13: District redraws its school boundary map

In time for the new school year, the District has redrawn its school catchment areas that determine which schools students are eligible to attend. The new boundaries were needed after the closing of 24 schools this year, sending thousands of students to new neighborhood schools.

The new catchment maps are viewable using the District's School Finder tool.

According to a District spokesperson, the redrawing of boundaries was directed by Deputy Chief of Staff Danielle Floyd. Neither the public nor the School Reform Commission was formally involved in the remapping.

In at least one case, the catchment area was not expanded as expected, to account for the fact that the school will be receiving students from a school that closed.

Lea Elementary in West Philadelphia was designated last spring as the school that will be receiving students who previously attended Wilson Elementary. Lea is located north of Wilson at 47th and Locust Streets. But in the new map, the boundaries for Lea's catchment area did not change. What was formerly the Wilson catchment was incorporated into the catchments of Comegys, Harrington, and Powel elementaries, whose areas were to the south, west, and northeast of Wilson. However, Lea still will be receiving the students who attended Wilson last year, even though they do not live in Lea's catchment area.

If you are familiar with the previous catchment areas and are able to spot any other interesting changes, please let us know

The District website advises families to "contact the local school identified on the map to ensure that the address of your residence meets the current catchment/boundary area requirements," and adds, "If you have questions concerning school boundaries or student placement, please call the School District of Philadelphia Call Center at 215-400-4000."


The School District of Philadelphia faces an unprecedented situation – uncertainty over whether it will be in a position to open safe and functioning schools in September.

This feature, appearing each weekday, is an effort to highlight developments and motivate action as we get closer to the beginning of the school year. We encourage readers to send us information about both concerns and breakthroughs to countdown@thenotebook.org.

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Comments (13)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 27, 2013 12:00 pm

Is it too much to ask that the district solicit catchment input from community members? If they're going to take all summer to redraw the catchments anyway? With the ties to real estate values, it is of course a tricky thing but community members do have valuable knowledge that should at least be solicited. These changes always feel so top down and made in a vaccuum. Lea has a tiny catchment, 46th/47th to 49th/50 Sansom to Batimore, yet its boundaries include parts of Walnut Hill, Spruce Hill, Garden Court and Cedar Park though none of them enough to make a primary claim. Is the district holding down Lea's catchment because some PAS families *might* be assigned to attend and *might* actually do so? There are many disappointed young families in the former Wilson catchment south of Baltimore right now. And they greatly outnumber the few noisy Wilson catchment protestors who objected to the Lea assignment.

Submitted by Paul Socolar on August 27, 2013 12:21 pm

Just a clarification that the new map has been available since early this month.

Submitted by Lisa Haver (not verified) on August 27, 2013 1:49 pm
"According to a District spokesperson, the redrawing of boundaries was directed by Deputy Chief of Staff Danielle Floyd. Neither the public nor the School Reform Commission was formally involved in the remapping." Of course, but was PSP there?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 27, 2013 4:31 pm
Did the catchment for Penn Alexander change? I know that was in the works, and somewhat controversial, but did it go through?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 27, 2013 4:55 pm
Not an inch.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 27, 2013 10:25 pm
But they did this: http://www.westphillylocal.com/2013/08/27/penn-alexander-wait-list-aboli... So
Submitted by Rob (not verified) on August 27, 2013 4:13 pm
I think that it's interesting that if you live one block west of Southern (15th and Snyder) then you are in Audenteid's catchment. I didn't know that charters would be part of the catchment - I would assume only some charters are listed using the district's school finder
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 27, 2013 5:01 pm
Renaissance Charters assume the boundaries of the school they took over. Students who live the catchment have a right to attend as they are their neighborhood school. Renaissance Charters are the only charters listed in the map. (ie. Mastery Gratz, Olney Aspira, Universal Audenreid, etc.)
Submitted by Rob (not verified) on August 27, 2013 5:14 pm
Thanks for the clarification. It is interesting to see Broad St as a boundary. Is tht based on neighborhood rivalries or simplicity. I would not be happy if I lived a block from one school but was told to attend another 25 blocks away
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 27, 2013 6:42 pm
High School Boundaries are not determined by distance, but by feeder pattern. In your example you may live two blocks from Southern, but since your local Elementary School feeds into Audenreid, you have to go there. I don't know the actually reason they do that, but it is probably because it is easier to move students based on catchments than on distance. Maintains consistency.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 28, 2013 12:09 am
Based on geography and history it's difficult to have circular catchments and feeder networks where the high school is in the center. Population changes more quickly than we change buildings, that's for sure.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 28, 2013 12:11 am
It's only for charters with catchments--"Renaissance Charters".
Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on August 28, 2013 8:53 am
Am I understanding this correctly? Does this mean that a new group of students-living west of Broad- will now be required to go to the non-unionized Audenreid- where they formerly were assigned to the unionized S Philly HS? Required to travel 2 miles instead of down the street? And we expect no collateral damage in our society from treating our students/families like this? Will this improve attendance? Will this improve alertness to learn? Will this improve academics? Will this strengthen communities? Will this inspire confidence in local government? Will this strengthen democracy? Will this lessen stress in the adolescent population? Will this retain young families in Philly as the doomsday plan unfolds? And why has this city been so utterly unsuccessful in getting this message out to our communities (that we will all pay dearly for this travesty) aside from this relatively small readership of the notebook? Next round of school closings is being planned as we "chat" here on the notebook. Can we get beyond chatting to more forceful action? Armchair activism "ain't cutting it".

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