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

Masked men robbed armored car in Mayfair, police…

Two masked men made off with more than $100,000 this morning after an armored car heist in Northeast Philadelphia, police said.

International

Putin fields question from NSA fugitive Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden, the fugitive former U.S. spy agency contractor who leaked details of intelligence eavesdropping, asked Russian President Vladimir Putin a question on Thursday during…

Local

Teen in 'Jihad Jane' terror case to be…

A judge on Thursday is set to sentence a high school student who pleaded guilty to helping al Qaeda and working with the woman known as "Jihad Jane."

National

Rapper affiliate of Wu-Tang Clan 'cuts off own…

Rapper Andre Johnson, who has performed with New York outfit the Wu-Tang Clan, is in a critical condition after reportedly cutting off his own penis…

Going Out

Tickets on sale for Rittenhouse Row Spring Festival…

It may be hard to believe but spring weather is finally just about here, which in Philly means festivals every weekend — including the annual…

Music

Center City Jazz Festival takes over four venues…

Shortly after graduating from Temple University, jazz musician Ernest Stuart packed up his trombone and headed to New York City. Soon he was gigging and…

The Word

'Mrs. Doubtfire' sequel in the works

Finally, Hollywood is making your dreams come true - they're making that "Mrs. Doubtfire" sequel you've been clamoring for all these years.

The Word

Lawsuit accuses 'X-Men' director Bryan Singer of raping…

A new lawsuit accuses director Bryan Singer of sexual assault against a minor.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

NHL

Flyers, Rangers meet in playoffs for 11th time

The Flyers and Rangers will start a new chapter in a historic rivalry.

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.

Wellbeing

This Week in Health News: breastfed infants trying…

Are breastfed infants trying to prevent mom from having another baby? Theory: The act of breastfeeding not only brings mom and baby closer together –…

Wellbeing

This Week in Health: chocolate may prevent obesity…

Can chocolate prevent obesity and diabetes? Location of study: U.S. Study subjects: Mice Results: The positive health benefits of chocolate have been studied increasingly more…

Wellbeing

Unexplained infertility may be caused by lack of…

Researchers have identified a protein on the egg's surface that interacts with another protein on the surface of sperm, allowing the two cells to join.