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SRC to vote Thursday on sale of 7 recently closed school buildings

By David Limm on Mar 19, 2014 02:32 PM
Photo: Paul Socolar

The School District plans to sell the former George W. Childs Elementary building in South Philadelphia to Metal Ventures Inc. The school was closed in 2010.

The District is set to sell seven of its shuttered school buildings for a total of $37 million. The School Reform Commission will vote on resolutions to approve the proposed sales to six buyers at a meeting Thursday night.

Should the SRC approve the sale of all the properties to their proposed buyers, the District would come within $24 million of its stated revenue goal from real estate sales for this fiscal year. 

The District has said it must net $61 million from the sale of surplus properties by the end of June. Originally, the District had budgeted $11 million in proceeds from school building sales and then $50 million more was promised by the city, which agreed to help the District sell its properties faster and more efficently.

To keep its budget in balance, the District must only sell the $11 million in properties that it had previously budgeted, because the city has promised the District the $50 million regardless.

By far the most valuable of the properties is the University City complex, which the District would like to sell for $25.1 million to Drexel University.

Earlier this month, the university's chief facilities officer, Bob Francis, said at a community meeting after the sale announcement that Drexel's intention was to use the space in a way that would increase the area's tax base, add jobs, and enhance community experience. Francis also said that Drexel was committed to working with the School District, an effort that includes a plan to move and expand the nearby Powel Elementary to the site in partnership with Science Leadership Academy, a magnet school whose model of learning the District has hoped to replicate in other schools.

Two recently closed school buildings, Shaw and Stephen Douglas, would be sold to charter school operators, and another, Harrison, to a Catholic school operator. 

The list of school properties and their proposed buyers and sale prices are shown below.  

School property for sale Proposed buyer Sale price
University City Complex 
(University City High, Charles Drew Elementary, Walnut Center)
Drexel University City Development $25,150,000
Childs Elementary Metal Ventures Inc. $1,180,000
Stephen Douglas High Maritime Charter School $2,100,000
Alexander Wilson Elementary Orens Brothers $4,600,000
Anna Shaw Middle School Mastery Charter Schools $2,700,000
William Harrison Elementary Independence Mission Schools $1,365,000
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Comments (6)

Submitted by Rob (not verified) on March 19, 2014 10:09 pm
Will there be promises to expand charter enrollment caps at the schools that charter operators have agreed to purchase? Will the money that the charter operators use to purchase the facility come from the per-pupil allotment? Does purchasing a school Meaning that a charter cannot be revoked? Does Drexel pay taxes? Will the charter school by the building direct or create a subsidiary llp or llc where they pay rent? What's role, if any, digital enough to school partnership play in the closing of individual schools and was it ore planned which school would buy each property?
Submitted by Headstart Teacher (not verified) on March 20, 2014 12:47 pm
all good questions that will NEVER be answered by the SRC NEVER!
Submitted by annonym. (not verified) on March 20, 2014 1:04 pm
The creation of a dual taxpayer funded school system - public schools and charter schools (whether for profit or non-profit) is creating a disaster for many cities. Public schools are having to cut basic programs while charters are reaping the benefits of millions because of their anti-union stance. Within 5 years it will not only be the School District of Phila. in financial straits but most public schools in PA. New York is facing the same battles - a pro-privatization / charter governor BUT New York City has a pro public school mayor. Wouldn't it be nice if Phila. had a pro public school mayor??? City Council???
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 20, 2014 7:13 pm
I agree that the cities are potential victims of the takeover. However, it will be a tough sell to have dual systems in most suburban districts. I believe that the education level of the adults in those communities is high enough to recognize the charter movement for the scam that it is.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on March 20, 2014 3:31 pm
The question which is begging to be answered and which I spoke about at the Auditor General's hearings last week on charter school transparency and accountability is this -- When Mastery and Maritime Charter School purchases those schools -- in whose name will the deed be titled? Will the school buildings be owned by Maritime Charter School? Or will it be owned by a side organization? Then will "the public" be forced to pay rent to a private party? Will the deed for the Mastery school be titled as Mastery Charter School? Or will it be titled to one of Mastery's side organizations? Since it is being purchased with supposedly "public funds" and both of those schools are supposed to be "public schools" does 'the public"own those schools or do 'the privatez" own those schools. Get the picture? Get the question? Whose school is it?
Submitted by Barbara McDowell Dowdall (not verified) on March 21, 2014 7:33 am
Under what could be called the PA and USA Citizens Supporting Public Schools Alarm Alert or Not Just Philly:

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