Uncertain future for W. Phila. school after fire

January 10, 2011 3:01:07 PM PST
Parents, students and staffers are waiting to see what the future holds after a fire destroyed a West Philadelphia charter school over the weekend.

The Global Leadership Academy campus on the 5100 block of Warren Street in the Parkside neighborhood was consumed by flames on Sunday. The icy shell that remains will have to be demolished.

Classes at the West Philadelphia campus are suspended until Jan. 18th. However, classes at the Global Leadership Academy's Northeast Philadelphia campus remain on schedule.

School officials were working hard on Monday to make arrangements for their 400 students.

"We don't have anything, and I mean anything. We need every donation you can think a school would need in terms of pencils and paper and all of that," said Dr. Naomi Johnson-Booker, CEO of the Global Leadership Academy.

The Philadelphia School District has offered a building in South Philadelphia, but it is a long way for students who live, for the most part, in West Philadelphia.

"Yesterday was a shocker. I was hysterical for most of the morning," said Dr. Johnson-Booker. "After coming around and seeing my staff all pulling together has given me the forward projection that [the school] is going to go forward."

The Global Leadership Academy, which serves students in grades K-8, was already in the process of constructing a new building when the fire struck.

However, that building is not scheduled to open until fall.

First grader London Starr was one of the students forced to stay home, but said he already misses school.

"I like doing math - mathematics - and reading," London said.

"London has a fear of fires anyway," said his grandmother, Tanya Starr. "So when we saw the fire on television yesterday he was really upset."

For now, staffers are looking for not only a temporary building, but supplies ranging from paper clips and pencils to pencils and computers.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined. All investigators have said so far is that the flames started in the basement.

The building is owned by the Greater Bible Way Temple which is adjacent to the church. The temple's pastor says the church has banquet facilities in the basement for use on weekends.

"A little bit of insurance, not enough to rebuild. Just enough to talk about rebuilding," said Bishop Benjamin Peterson.

A meeting was held on Monday night for parents to ask questions about the aftermath of this fire.