Joining of 2 schools in Spring Garden causes controversy

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School move stirs up controversy in Spring Garden. John Rawlins reports during Action News at 6 p.m. on September 13, 2017. (WPVI)

A move for two Philadelphia schools to share one building is stirring up some controversy in Philadelphia's Spring Garden neighborhood.

"A lot of parents were upset, I don't know if oppose is the right word, a decision has been made," Kevin Little said.

A parent of a Science Leadership Academy student reacting to word the SLA will move from 22nd and Arch to a redeveloped Ben Franklin High School campus on North Broad.

The school district says SLA is losing its lease, Ben Franklin has the room, and it makes sense for SLA.

"It's accessible by subway line, so it's close to Franklin Institute with they have a partnership with. There are lots of reason that it made sense geographically and in terms of investment," Shawn Bird of the Philadelphia School District said.

The two schools have very different reputations. The district says Ben Franklin, which has struggled with violence in the past has made great improvements.

Still a web site that tracks schools says Ben Franklin's 4 year graduation rate is less half of SLA's 99 percent.

Its average SAT score is more than 300 points below SLA's.

SLA's kids have attracted the likes of Bill Gates to Barrack Obama.

But District officials are optimistic, though different cultures, there will be good synergy for both schools.

Chris Lehmann of the Philadelphia School District said, "Five years from now I think you will have an incredible vibrant SLA, and an incredible modern CTE Ben Franklin. I look forward to it."

One Ben Franklin student is hopeful.

"If they put their mind to it, everybody in Philly got to work together that's all," Mahmoud Ware Said.

But some SLA parents apparently are not sold yet

Wayne Moses said, "There mostly businesses class people that work in the area. So it's safe for our kids to intermingle with that. You got a lot of branches here of safety. In other parts of the city, you don't have that, like the school that they're talking about."

Some parents may have concerns, but the co-location plan deal is done.

The SRC is planning to hire an architect Thursday during its meeting for a $20,000 million rehab of Ben Franklin site. The SLA is planning to move to that site in September 2019.
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