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E.M. Stanton coalition wins fight to save school

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

After a community-wide fight in support of the school, on April 16 the SRC voted to keep E.M. Stanton Elementary School open for at least two more years.

Stanton, located in South Philadelphia, was one of four schools in the District targeted for closure at the end of the school year because of a combination of low enrollment, low test scores, and old facilities.

Deputy Chief Academic Officer Ellen Savitz says that the District will monitor the school’s enrollment and review the decision in two years. If enrollment remains at current rates in two years, Savitz says the District will consider closing it. "We’re not saying we’re coming back in two years with a hatchet. We’re coming back in two years to take another look," she said.

Beginning in January, the Save Stanton School Coalition waged a campaign to preserve the close-knit community and strong neighborhood ties that have been built at the school. Coalition members spent months getting petitions signed, building political support, and developing alternative plans to keep the school open.

The District has followed through on one of the Coalition’s proposals — to reinstate the Head Start program that had previously been housed at Stanton.

The coalition also impressed City Council President Anna Verna when they testified at the City Council budget hearings in late March. Verna remarked, "In all of my years in the community, I have never seen the community rally on one issue as they have on the Stanton school issue."

Stepheni Trott-Batipps, a coalition member and grandmother of three Stanton students, says that the relationships that have been developed within the community have been an important result of the campaign to keep Stanton open.

"The community is who really wins," she remarked. "We had a voice in what goes on in our neighborhood, and it’s just the beginning of having a voice in what will happen in the future."

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