This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
The District is presenting information about the facilities master plan at a special meeting of the School Reform Commission today. A press release circulated at the meeting says:
The "Imagine Great Schools" plan will be implemented over three years. When fully implemented by 2014, the District will have:
- Reduced the variation in grade configurations from 25 to 4
- Provided a comprehensive, Career and Technical Education (CTE), special admissions "turnaround," and charter pathway in geographic areas throughout the city
- Reach a District utilization goal of 85% through a three-year process of building and annex closures, termination of leases, and sale of empty buildings by:
- Reducing the number of facilities by up to 50 [emphasis ours]
- Cutting excess capacity by at least half
- Made strategic capital investments through renovations and selective new construction
- Engaged the community in decisions for re-use of closed buildings
Penny Nixon presented details, noted in the PowerPoint, about the recommended ranges for student populations at different types of school:
- For elementary schools, the recommended range is 450-600 students
- For K-8s, the range is 450-800 students
- For middle schools, the range is 600-800
- And for high schools, the range is 1,000-1,200
Nixon did emphasize however, that "some exceptions will remain."
The four grade configurations, a reduction from the 25 grade configurations the District has at present, will be: K-5, 6-8, 9-12, and K-8.
The PowerPoint includes details on long-range plan recommendations:
- Make strategic capital investments
- Moratorium on construction that would create additional capacity [emphasis ours]
- More renovations, selective new construction
Tracy Richter, CEO of DeJong Richter said, “There is still some construction that has to happen, because you still have to invest in older facilities. …We’re just suggesting that any construction that happens does not add any more capacity to the District.”
The "public may submit written or oral testimony at the following SRC meetings:" April 27, May 11, and May 18.
The dates for round three of the facilities master plan community meetings have changed:
- Tue. 4-12 Bartram High
- Thur. 4-14 Roxborough High
- Wed. 5-4 South Philadelphia High
- Thur. 5-5 High School of the Future
- Tue. 5-10 Lincoln High
- Thur. 5-12 Temple Health Care Campus Student Center
All meetings take place from 6-8 p.m.
Some immediate changes are planned:
- changing the grade configuration at Ethel Allen,
- closing Ellwood Annex (put the whole school back in the main building),
- reconfiguring Ellwood to be K-5, not K-6,
- change Smedley and Mann, Renaissance Schools operated by Mastery, from K-5 to K-6 so they can feed into Mastery’s 7-12 schools, and
- sell already closed buildings: Ada Lewis, Alcorn Annex, Beeber-Wynnefield Annex, Childs, Gillespie, Walton, and Muhr.
Danielle Floyd said the District will "take a more active and aggressive approach to listing [the closed buildings] for sale."
This is a developing story and updates will be made throughout the evening. Here is a full report on the meeting and the recommendations.