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Update: New deadline is Feb. 6 to submit alternative school-closing proposals

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

Speaking at a community meeting at Bartram High School two weeks ago, Superintendent William Hite announced that the District was inviting community members to submit alternative proposals to its school-closings plan. So far, the District has received 13 14 proposals from parents, education networks, School Advisory Council members, and others. All are posted on the District’s website.

Update: Today the District extended the deadline to Feb. 6 to submit individual plans for the Facilities Master Plan process. Those who still want to submit a proposal can do so by email.

The School Reform Commission is expected to vote on the closing recommendations March 7.

Here are some of the proposals’ recommendations, concerning five of the schools slated for closure.

Stay Unified: A Resolution to Keep University City High School Together: Among the recommendations is a suggestion to invite other high schools such as Paul Robeson, or another public or charter school, to co-locate with University City as distinct schools sharing a single space. Stay Unified insists that the District could increase utilization at University City by expanding its Life Skills, Multiple Handicapped, and Autistic Support Programs and offering them to students displaced by the school-closings process, or even opening up the programs to students citywide who need them. The school’s advocates also recommend renting unused space in the building to nonprofits, community businesses, and university partners as a way to create a full-service community school while raising needed revenues.

Philadelphia Military Academy at Leeds: The District proposes moving Philadelphia Military Academy at Leeds to Roosevelt Middle School, where it would merge with the District’s other military academy, Philadelphia Military Academy at Elverson. But concerned parents and community members have suggested creating an all-high-school building in the Leeds building by merging the two Philadelphia Military Academies on its second floor. The first floor, they said, could be used to house Parkway Northwest, which would move into the building as well.

McCloskey Elementary: Parents of students attending this school have made two suggestions: One is to serve additional students by growing the grade configuration from Pre-K to 6 to K-8; the second is to leave McCloskey as a Pre-K to 6 school and make the underenrolled F.S. Edmonds School into a K-8 school. Seventh and 8th graders from McCloskey and Pennypacker would fill the grades that would be added to Edmonds.

Save Duckrey Strategic Plan: One of the more lengthy proposals, this plan is filled with charts and narratives that illustrate the academic progress at the school. One option that it suggests is to send Meade students to attend Duckrey, which school advocates say would ensure the safety of Meade and Duckrey students, who would walk to school in close proximity to the heavily police-patrolled Temple campus. A second proposal recommends combining Duckrey with Pratt.

Fulton Elementary: The proposal involves making Fulton a K-8 school, moving Fulton to neighboring Germantown High School, and permitting Fulton staff and students to remain intact.

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