Phila. School meeting tonight on buildings' futures

April 14, 2011 4:02:16 AM PDT
The Philadelphia School District says it needs to rid itself of 50 buildings in the next three years.

That was contained in a report to the school reform commission last Thursday.

The first public meeting about the school district's $630 million dollar budget deficit, and how the plan for 50 of the district's building will be affected is slated for tonight.

The meeting is slated for:
Roxborough High School
6498 Ridge Ave.
6 - 8 pm
Thursday April 14, 2011

Under the proposed school facilities report, no schools will be closing in September. The School District has not said which schools will close, but has revealed that sometime in October officials will begin to propose which schools should be closed for the 2012 school year.

"It's going to be necessary, but we're going to do this in concert with the communities and the parents, which is why we didn't announce schools today, we didn't go there," said Philadelphia Schools Superintendent, Dr. Arlene Ackerman.

Facing a $630 million budget deficit in the wake of a severe recession, Dr. Arlene Ackerman and her staff have been trying to look at everything they can to address the situation the District finds itself in.

The District presented the School Reform Commission with a plan to largely downsize and restructure the district.

RELATED: See the district's presentation online

Faced with 70,000 empty seats over the next few years, the District is looking at consolidating schools, closing others and selling 50 buildings, many of them schools by 2014.

Sale of the buildings could bring at least $12.5 million, but that hardly begins to address the $630 million budget shortfall.

"So there are a lot more things that we have to do, this is a small part of that," said Ackerman.

A small group of students and parents from Powell Elementary school were at the meeting to protest a 20% cut in that schools budget.

"A 20% budget cut has a tremendous impact on what you can do. We have nothing to cut," said Ann Pomerantz, President of the Home and School Association. "We don't have any extra services."

"We're really scared, we're really scared that our school can't weather a 20% cut."

But officials argue the plan is not just meant to downsize the District or 'Rightsize' it, as they like to put it. Officials plan to unveil a Career and Technical Education plan in October to align students' curriculum not just with jobs, but jobs that are in demand.

"While we will probably see some financial impact, what's driving this right now is the educational value for our young people," said Ackerman."

Beginning next week, a series of community meetings will be held across the city so people can weigh in on the proposals before a vote by the School Reform Commission.

The district has planned a series of six community meetings to provide more information and gather public input.

The complete meeting schedule is as follows:

Southwest segment
Bartram High School
2401 S. 67th St.
6 - 8 pm
Tuesday April 12, 2011

Northwest segment
Roxborough High School
6498 Ridge Ave.
6 - 8 pm
Thursday April 14, 2011

South Central segment
South Philadelphia High School
2101 S. Broad St.
6 - 8 pm
Wednesday May 4, 2011

West segment
High School of the Future
4021 Parkside Ave.
6 - 8 pm
Thursday May 5, 2011

Northeast segment
Lincoln High School
3201 Ryan Ave.
6 - 8 pm
Tuesday May 10, 2011

North Central segment
Temple HealthCare Campus Student Center
3400 N. Broad Street
6 - 8 pm
Thursday May 12, 2011