Philadelphia School District asks parents for input on closures

PHILADELPHIA - September 25, 2012

Dozens of schools must be closed to cut costs and the district is allowing the community to weigh in on the process.

At a hearing on Tuesday, officials at school district headquarters told parents and community members that the process of closing schools in Philadelphia will be difficult, but must be done for the future of education in a district that is feeling a budget squeeze.

"It's a matter of dollars and cents," said Superintendent Dr. William Hite. "Unfortunately, it all comes back to revenue. We don't have enough revenue in the district so, number one, we have to continue to advocate there. Number two, we have to operate as efficiently as we can."

This was the first of six meetings scheduled across the city over the next three weeks, to gather input before schools are identified and children are moved to other buildings.

The questions included: How would closings affect transportation, how would new schools be composed and would some students lose special amenities?

The district had people to issue responses electronically.

"I think that would be a great thing, if they actually are asking for our opinion and using what we say as parents," said parent Delores Brown.

There are 239 school buildings in the city. Under the developing Facilities Master Plan, between 40 and 60 schools may be shuttered over the course of many months, or several years.

"My fear is that the lower income schools will be closed," said parent Cecelia Thompson. "I don't think that's fair, I think they need more resources."

The school district hopes to have recommendations on school closures by November. Then, the school reform commission will ultimately decide. That decision could come by March of next year.

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