Final day of SRC hearings brings impassioned outcries

February 23, 2013 4:03:53 PM PST
Today was the final day of hearings on the revised school closing list before Philadelphia's School Reform Commission.

For the third straight day, members of the School Reform Commission listened to impassioned public comment about plans to close 29 Philadelphia schools.

The district's student population is dropping and many buildings are under-utilized. The closures are estimated to save $24.5 million.

But speaker after speaker urged the commission to consider factors other than dollars and cents.

LeRon Epps is a varsity basketball player at Robeson High School. The current plan would have him transfer to Sayre, a school with more reported incidents of violence.

"I came to Paul Robeson to play basketball, but also because it is a nice, safe environment and safe area," Epps said.

Safety was also a concern for elementary school parents.

"There has been no adequate safety prevision made to ensure the safety of our children," parent Sarah Inman said.

University City High School is also on the closure list.

Supporters say its Promise Academy has reported improved performance over the past few years. And that the community has already sacrificed too much due to expansion of the Penn and Drexel campuses.

"These students have been wronged too many times. They were denied the opportunities that should have come with this school," Allison Even, a student teacher, said.

SRC Chairman Pedro Ramos says the commission is listening, but tough choices have to be made.

"It is enormously complicated and in the end no decision is going to be perfect," Ramos said.

Though this is the last of the public hearings, stakeholders can still file written comments with the SRC.

Decision day is expected to occur on March 7th.


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