SRC vote leads to closing of historic Philadelphia school

March 8, 2013 3:21:24 PM PST
The final word is in for 23 Philadelphia public schools - they WILL shut down at the end of the year.

The School Reform Commission voted for the closures Thursday night, despite widespread protest from students, parents, and teachers.

One of the many schools slated for closure is Germantown High School.

Built in 1914, Germantown High would have turned 100 next year, making it one of the oldest in the country.

Students had been hoping to see the school stay open so they could graduate from here but it is not to be.

"It's kind of sad; it's almost like a social genocide. They're shutting down the neighborhood middle school and elementary school, so all the kids will get flooded somewhere else," said Anthony Washington.

Many Germantown students fear their imminent transfers to places like Martin Luther King because of school and neighborhood rivalries.

"There are going to be a lot of fights if we go to other schools. Most of them don't like us and we don't like them so if we go to their school, they're going to say 'This is our property, don't come to our property,' it's going to start trouble," said Jusin Seawright.

"I think they're going to send me to King and I don't want to go there because it's going to be a lot of fights and a lot of drama in the one area," said Rachon Wilson.

Parents and guardians are not happy about the decision either.

"It's not good for a lot of these children. They'll have to go miles and miles to go to school plus they fight so it's not good," said Gloria Richardson.

For the owner of the restaurant across the street, it's a hit to the heart as well as the wallet.

"We'll lose a lot of business from the students, the faculty and the staff. They won't be coming in so I'm upset about that plus I went to Germantown High School so it's really devastating," said Bill Newman.

Meanwhile, eight other local high schools are also being shutdown at the end of this term. In all, 23 Philadelphia schools are now officially slated to close in June.

The decision affects some 14,000 students.

By the hundreds Thursday night, parents, activists and union leaders turned out at the School Reform Commission meeting to emotionally protest the closings.

Four schools were spared, but the SRC contends the cash-poor school district can no long afford to keep buildings open that are drastically under-enrolled and in poor condition.

SRC Chairman Pedro Ramos explains, "You've got more buildings and fewer students than we've ever had."

Ramos says there will be no teacher layoffs after these cuts in schools. He also says the closings of these schools will generate more than $24 million in savings.

Remaining open:

Bayard Taylor Elementary School

Paul Robeson High School

Theodore Roosevelt Middle School

Thomas M. Peirce Elementary School


Alexander Wilson Elementary School

Anna B. Pratt Elementary School

Anna H. Shaw Middle School

Charles Carroll High School

Communications Technology School

Edward Bok Technical High School

Fairhill Elementary School

General John F. Reynolds Elementary School

George Pepper Middle School

George Washington Elementary School

Germantown High School

John G. Whittier Elementary School

John L. Kinsey Elementary School

Joseph C. Ferguson Elementary School

Joseph Leidy Elementary School

Leslie P. Hill Elementary School

Robert E. Lamberton High School

Robert Fulton Elementary School

Roberts Vaux Promise Academy

Sheridan West Academy

Stephen A. Douglas High School

University City High School

Walter G. Smith Elementary School

The following recommendations will take effect at the start of the 2013-14 school year:

  • The Philadelphia Military Academies will merge as one high school at the Elverson building, 2118 N. 13th St.
  • Parkway Northwest High School will relocate to the Leeds Middle School facility.
  • Motivation High School will relocate to Turner Middle School, 5900 Baltimore Ave.
  • Abigail Vare Elementary School will be relocated to the George Washington Elementary School building.
  • The Carnell Middle Years Annex at Fels will close.