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Willard parents spell out priorities for new school

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

Parent activists at Willard School in Kensington, having secured a firm commitment from the District to begin work on replacing the 100-year old building in 2008, are defining their goals for the new school. They are also weighing in on the school funding debate in hopes that resources will be available for a quality academic program.

According to Shanee Garner, organizer with the Eastern Pennsylvania Organizing Project (EPOP), the group’s Willard School parent team has also been closely watching for the anticipated property transfer of the planned school site – a former recreation center – from the city to the School District. “People would be more at ease if this would hurry up and happen,” Garner explained.

EPOP’s campaign for a new Willard got its start back in the 1990s.

Garner added that among the group’s priorities for the new Willard, “We want to make sure that the school is safe and that all children there have equal opportunities.” Quality extracurricular offerings are also a concern, Garner said. Parents want a say in any District proposals to change school boundaries when the new building is completed.

According to Patrick Henwood, director of capital projects for the District, groundbreaking for the $27 million project, designed to house 800 students, is on track for the spring.

“I can’t wait to get it built,” Henwood commented. “The community has been very patient.”