Supporters of a new West Philadelphia High School worked for over a year to come up with a common vision for the new facility involving small schools on a shared campus. Then they successfully negotiated community differences about where the school should be built, winning a District OK last fall for the school’s sports fields as a site.

They knew that one last piece of property needed to be acquired to complete the site. But they did not know until this winter that it may be two years until there is new bond money available in the District’s capital budget to start the project.

And so the Philadelphia Student Union and other groups that have been pushing for the new school say they now must lobby District officials and others to secure financing for the $60 million project.

CEO Paul Vallas responded to the groups in January that the school can still be funded and built by 2009, using District operating dollars, through a “turnkey,” lease-purchase arrangement. But as of late February, School Reform Commission members said they have not yet seen how the CEO proposes to fund this project within the constraints of a deficit budget.

Advocates for the new high school asked the SRC for a solution to the financing problem at a January meeting. Afterwards, Student Union member and West Philly junior Tiffany Fogle promised, “We’ll come back to these meetings until we get what we want.”

the notebook

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