This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
The School District’s preliminary plan for "rightsizing" its facilities calls for as many as two dozen schools to be closed in 2012 and 2013, but William Penn High School is recommended for rebuilding as a 1,200-student high school, according to additional leaked documents from the District’s facilities master planning (FMP) process.
Thirteen pages of charts summarizing the impact of proposed changes on school enrollment and capacity were appended to the District’s "Preliminary FMP Options Report," a confidential document drafted by a team of consultants and considered by school officials in March. That document was obtained by the Notebook and published on Saturday.
The District has responded that the options outlined in these confidential documents are not final and are likely to change substantially before the next round of proposals goes public in October. "This draft was created in March as an initial working document for discussion purposes," said a District statement on Saturday. "It does not reflect the District’s current thinking on feasible options."
At a School Reform Commission meeting on Monday, Deputy Superintendent Leroy Nunery reiterated this, calling the report a "working document" and saying that "any suggestion that any actions were going to be made at certain schools is jumping so far to conclusions it’s laughable."
One page of information appears to be missing from the collection of charts obtained by the Notebook from an anonymous source – for Northeast Philadelphia, there is no breakdown of the changes planned to elementary and middle schools that are described in the main report.
The charts separate schools by whether they are high schools or serve grades from K-8. Schools are also organized by the six planning districts used during the School District’s planning process.
In a few cases, the charts provide information that was not included in the narrative report.
Besides revealing the plan to demolish and rebuild William Penn, the document shows Robeson High School in West Philadelphia as recommended for closing, though that was not one of the 84 action steps in the narrative report. Girls and Central high schools, also not mentioned in the narrative report, are both recommended for "major renovation."
The charts break down the enrollment changes, with more than 34,000 seats to be eliminated overall. More than one-fourth of the seats proposed to be eliminated would be in North Philadelphia.
While William Penn would be reopened, many more schools in North Philadelphia are on the preliminary closings list, including Dunbar, Harrison, Gideon, T.M. Peirce, L.P. Hill, and Waring elementaries, and FitzSimons and Ben Franklin high schools. Also in the region, Reynolds and Meade elementary schools are to be consolidated into one building, the Philadelphia Military Academy at Elverson faces possible relocation and consolidation, and Rhodes High School faces possible closure or conversion to a middle school.
North Philadelphia has the most excess capacity in its public schools of any region in the city.
This story is the product of a reporting partnership on the facilities master plan between the Notebook and PlanPhilly