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Community meetings held on school construction plans

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

The School District’s massive capital improvement program is in high gear; the $1.5 billion, five-year program will assess the current condition of all buildings, make $1 billion in renovations, and build about 20 new schools.

The District reports that its building assessment will be completed in July. Ground was broken earlier this year on the first new school: the Feltonville Community K-8 campus.

Objectives of the program include getting existing buildings in good repair; constructing new elementary schools and additions to relieve overcrowding; converting some elementary schools to K-8 schools; converting middle schools into small high schools or elementary schools; and creating smaller high schools of 800-1000 students.

A series of community meetings to get input on construction plans has started at 16 of the schools where major construction is scheduled. Prior to these meetings, a "school planning team," including parent and teacher representatives, worked with District staff at each of the schools to define the scope of the project.

Turnouts for community meetings have been modest at most schools. One exception has been the project to replace Fels High School, currently housed in a deteriorating building in Northeast Philadelphia. There has been substantial opposition to relocation plans from neighbors surrounding the proposed site.

Other schools where community meetings are being held include Bluford, H.A. Brown, Gratz, Lawton, Mifflin, Moore, Roxborough, Sayre, Shawmont, Strawberry Mansion, University City, Vaux, Washington H.S., and Ziegler, as well as a new elementary school to be built at G Street and Hunting Park Avenue.

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