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District shares the rationale behind each school-closing recommendation

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

At the three regional community meetings held so far on school closings, the District has been displaying information explaining the reasons for each decision.

On Wednesday morning, officials shared three PowerPoint presentations and they have posted them on the District website. (The presentation for the Northwest planning area can be viewed below, and the two North-Central region presentations can be found here and here.)

Normally, at the beginning of the legally mandated 90-day period between an announcement and the actual vote, the District would have held individual school meetings with all this information. But, officials said, because of the sheer number of recommended closings — 37 — as well as other changes that will impact the grade configurations of additional schools, the School Reform Commission invoked its special powers to streamline the public engagement process.

The information includes enrollment trends, utilization rate, and achievement levels at each school, but not the relative condition of the facility. It also does not include the achievement levels of the schools to which the displaced students are being assigned. By "rightsizing" the District, officials say, they will be able to improve the educational experience of each child.

The first meeting at Dobbins High School was the most crowded and raucous, with nearly 1,000 people. Subsequent meetings at Edison and Martin Luther King High Schools drew fewer attendees, but at both, speakers passionately defended individual schools.

Six more regional meetings are scheduled between Jan. 22 and 30, at which time the District will release the information for each area. There will be a total of 16 additional meetings before the SRC takes a final vote in March.

FMP Northwest Planning Area from psnotebook

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