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
Local

Video: Car crashes into Cambridge store, man arrested…

A Cambridge man was arrested on gun and drug charges after crashing his car into a Massachusetts Avenue storefront early Saturday morning.

Local

Body found believed to be missing Fitchburg boy…

The body of a child found off of a highway in Sterling last week is likely that of missing Fitchburg boy Jeremiah Oliver, authorities said.

Local

Memorial held for Sean Collier, MIT police officer…

More than 1,600 people gathered at MIT on Friday for a memorial service for Sean Collier, the police officer shot to death a year ago in the aftermath of the…

National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

Television

'Orphan Black' recap: Episode 1, ‘Nature Under Constraint…

Welcome to your first Season 2 “Orphan Black” recap! Hopefully Tatiana Maslany can help Tatiana Maslany get through this, with the help of Tatiana Maslany,…

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox defeat Orioles, 4-2

Brock Holt the difference in the Red Sox' win

NHL

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump…

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump Bruins in Game 1

MLB

MLB video highlights: Orioles top Red Sox, 8-4…

John Lackey roughed up for second straight outing

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Parenting

Is camp right for introverts?

We ask an expert for tips on sending your introverted child to camp

Parenting

How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.