After losing two dozen schools last year -- on top of six in 2012 -- the School District of Philadelphia won't be seeing any closings in 2014.
Superintendent William Hite announced Friday afternoon that the District would not be proposing any school closures this year.
There is no word yet on whether the School District plans to recommend additional school closings to the School Reform Commission in 2014.
"A final decision has not been made yet," said spokesperson Fernando Gallard on Friday.
Just-released 2013 enrollment numbers from the School District show that the overwhelming majority of students displaced from closed schools ended up in other District schools.
The new reports on District, charter, and alternative school enrollments reveal some significant movement of students between schools this year and include the first publicly released data about where the students who were displaced by 24 closings in June have ended up.
School District officials say that just over 1,500 students more than the number that they budgeted for are enrolled in charter schools this year, opening up a new $12 million to $15 million hole in its budget.
Spokesman Fernando Gallard said that the District was not prepared to say yet what steps it may take to close the gap.
The charter law requires the District to pay charters for each Philadelphia student enrolled. The District itself does not get money for those students from the state or the city on a per capita basis.
"We are closely monitoring the District's monthly revenues and expenditures to determine possible savings in order to meet the new cost estimates for charter schools," Gallard said. The District had already allocated 29 percent of its $2.4 billion operating budget, or $708 million, in payments to charter schools.
Naseem Bey, a 10th grader at Kensington Creative and Performing Arts High School (KCAPA), talked of textbooks with 10 pages missing.
If you need a particular page, “you might have to find someone with that page,” Bey said.
Khyeanna Mallette, a junior at Philadelphia Military Academy, remembered leaving a physical education class with a headache and having to get an ice bag from the school’s secretary because there was no nurse on duty that day.
by Naveed Ahsan
Videographer Amy Yeboah premiered her films Goodbye to City Schools and (Re) Inscribing Meaning on Wednesday night at the Scribe Video Center. The screenings followed the opening of an exhibit of photos by Philadelphia School Closings Photo Collective, a project curated by photographers Katrina Ohstrom and Melissa Holman, which showcases images taken in the spring of 2013 by 10 photographers, including Notebook photographer Harvey Finkle.
Goodbye to City Schools focuses on four of the 24 Philadelphia District schools that closed in June. (Re) Inscribing Meaning is about the choices that African American families make regarding their children's education.
Videographer Amy Yeboah worked this summer with the Notebook to complete a 30-minute documentary about this year’s wave of school closings. It’s called Goodbye to City Schools.
The project took her inside four of the 24 schools that closed for good in June: Germantown High School, Bok Technical High School, Fairhill Elementary School, and University City High School. The project was made possible through a graduate fellowship position at the Notebook sponsored by the Samuel S. Fels Fund.
At 7 p.m. on Oct. 16, the documentary will be screened at an event hosted by the Notebook and the nonprofit Scribe Video Center, 4212 Chestnut St., as part of Scribe’s Storyville series.
Last December, Superintendent William Hite announced plans to close or relocate 44 Philadelphia schools at the end of the school year. At most of the schools, parents, teachers, students, and other community members were outraged by the plan. Rallies to save the schools ensued, and the District dropped a dozen schools from the list; four others were spared by the School Reform Commission. But a majority of the efforts to save schools from being shuttered were unsuccessful. Ultimately, 24 schools were closed, with 5 more relocating or merging.
George Metz’s family is all too familiar with school closings.
His stepson, Shyheim Saunders, 17, attended FitzSimons from 7th to 10th grade. When that got shuttered in 2012, he transferred to Roberts Vaux for 11th grade. Now, heading into his senior year in high school, Shyheim will switch once again, attending Benjamin Franklin High School due to the recent closing at Vaux.
That adds up to three schools in three years for Shyheim.
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.”