Revised Philadelphia school closings coming next week, no details available at city council hearing

Philadelphia School District William R. Hite Jr.
Philadelphia School District William R. Hite Jr.

Begging for the survival of 37 schools in the Philadelphia School District, community leaders pleaded with Philadelphia City Council members during an emotional four-hour hearing.

“Many of our schools are already struggling to build support for our youth and yet, every year, more and more resources are taken to improve those supports,” said Erika Almiron, executive director of Juntos, a Latino immigrant community led organization.

Changes will be made to the plan to close district-run schools, but the people won’t know more information until a week before the decision is made.

Philadelphia Schools Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. will make adjustments to his plan and the revisions will be made public sometime next week. Members of City Council heard input on the closings yesterday, but the School Reform Commission will vote to adopt the plan on March 7.

Hite said the school district is facing a $1.3 billion deficit over five years. The district lost 60, 000 students in the last 15 years.

“We cannot spend money that we do not have on empty seats and empty space,” Hite said.

He called the recommendation to close the schools drastic but necessary.

The district has been criticized, Hite said, for proposing to close schools in poor, mostly black neighborhoods. Yet, under closer surveillance, “you will see that their student achievement levels are dismal,” he said.

“Even if we had more money, if only for a year, it is difficult to justify investing in schools that are not serving the needs of our children,” Hite said.

Hite said the district would save about $28 million yearly and  $140 million a year over five years if the 37 schools closed.  But this does not include relocation costs of an estimated 17,000 students.

“Some of the schools are struggling even to provide the most basic education, our resources are being spread too thin across too many schools,” Hite said.

Councilman David Oh said the suddenness and drastic nature of the actions being taken are what seem offensive to the people, and that they “seem to be motivated by financial failure.”

Hite said past mismanagement of the district’s finances is what led to the current financial issues.

Oh said the School Reform Commission has been in charge of the school district for the last 10 years and is run by Harrisburg and particularly by Gov. Tom Corbett.

“It would seem to me the SRC should take responsibly for paying for the (one-year moratorium on school closings) until we are ensured,” he said.

Oh asked if it’s too late to change the plan so it is motivated by better education, and not simply by “saving dollars.”

Hite said closing the schools would eventually help the remainder of the education system.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.