Closure savings are labor savings
The District says shuttering 37 schools will lower expenses by $28 million annually. But in the short run there are “substantial” transition costs.
by Bill Hangley, Jr.
Anne Gemmell, whose organization Fight for Philly is part of a coalition pressing for a moratorium on closures, said the surging home values around the popular Penn Alexander School in West Philadelphia – which is subsidized in part by the University of Pennsylvania – tell the same story: “When [a] school is adequately resourced, it succeeds – and the surrounding homeowners and renters have a richer community.”
This point has often been among the first made by parents and community members at the District’s public hearings: Closing schools, they’ve said countless times, carries costs for communities, and not just in terms of dollars and cents.
“Think about the cost of children’s emotions as they come through this,” said Joan Foley, a teacher at George Washington Elementary, a school slated for closure. “You’ve made friends, you’ve come across the city, and now you’re going to be ripped apart from those friends for the sake of money? There’s an emotional cost there too that plays a part in their whole educational experience,” she said.
Kihn, however, insists that the benefits of the closures will offset any costs borne by the city’s communities. “Our goal is to improve the quality of schools, which will have a positive effect on property values,” he said. “One way that we do that is stopping wasting money on seats that are empty.”