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

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.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

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."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

NHL

Rangers' speed versus Flyers' size makes interesting playoff…

Among the myriad aspects that will make this Metropolitan Division semifinal series fascinating will be the battle between the Rangers' speed and the Flyers' size,…

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.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.