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School facilities and closings

This page is the place to keep up with the facilities master planning process that was launched by the School District in 2010 and continues still in 2013.

In its latest phase, the District is proposing to close or relocate as many as 44 schools in time for September 2013.

Since 2010, the District has been working on a  facilities master plan designed to "right-size" its physical plant. Officials say the goal is to maximize educational availability, quality, and equity. The plan will involve closing, consolidating, and selling schools. The District has estimated that it has as many as 70,000 empty seats in school buildings and would like to reduce that number significantly.

Decisions on how to manage these changes call for wide community dialogue and close collaboration between the School District and city government. State law mandates public input on decisions to close schools, including a public announcement, a public hearing and a 90-day window for comment before schols can be closed. But past school closing decisions have not always been preceded by a robust public discussion.

In 2011-12, the Notebook partnered with PlanPhilly to cover this process and inform and help foster that dialogue. Articles on the facilities plan are found on both organizations' websites. In 2012-13, the Notebook has continued that coverage, as closings are proposed on an even wider scale.

The Notebook's coverage of school facilities and closings has been supported by grants from the William Penn Foundation for 2011-12 and the Thomas Skelton Harrison Foundation for 2012. Neither foundation exercised control over the content of this coverage.

Redevelop William Penn High building as STEM center?

By the Notebook on Feb 11, 2014 04:00 PM

by Aurora Jensen

Instead of building more charter schools, State Rep. Curtis Thomas and organizers of the William Penn Development Coalition say, the School District should refit and reopen closed neighborhood schools to address growing educational inequality in Philadelphia.

“It is time to declare a moratorium on charter schools,” Thomas said in an interview last week. He said charter schools had not lived up to his office’s expectations for district-wide improvement in education.

Now sharing a building, 2 schools seek collaboration

By by Sonia Giebel on Sep 14, 2013 09:38 AM

Dimner Beeber Middle School was headed for extinction. 

Since it was barely a quarter full and posted poor academic indicators, the District planned to close it and send a few hundred Beeber 7th and 8th graders to nearby Overbrook High School.

But for Raynae Bosley, a rising 8th grader, Beeber was working.

In 7th grade, she said, “all of the teachers didn’t give up on me and they kept getting me up to the next level.”

“I really didn’t want the school to be closed at all.”

Hatching a plan to prevent shuttered Philly schools from turning to blight

By the Notebook on Jun 14, 2013 01:21 PM

by Elizabeth Fiedler for NewsWorks

Philadelphia is trying to find new life for vacant school buildings or those that soon will be empty.  

With 24 schools slated to close, a study by the University of Pennsylvania's School of Design looked at ways to reuse the structures. 

Harris Steinberg said the worry is that the neighborhoods losing the schools will get more blight once the buildings are empty. Steinberg is the executive director of Penn Praxis, the clinical consulting arm of the School of Design at Penn.

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