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Close Beeber? School’s supporters to propose alternative plan

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

The community meeting to discuss the planned closure of Beeber Middle School will be held at 6 p.m. tomorrow, March 19, at the school. The meeting was postponed from March 6 due to a forecast of inclement weather.

The District’s revised Feb. 18 closure plan announced the proposed closing of Beeber, a school serving grades 6-8. The plan says: "Students will be offered reassignment at Overbrook High School. Overbrook will expand its grade organization to become a 7-12 middle secondary school."

As an alternative to the District’s plan, members of a committee to save Beeber will present a proposal to repurpose and rebrand the school as The Arts and Academic Plus Academy@ Beeber. The plan would include applying for an incubation grant with the Philadelphia School Partnership, which would go toward funding a school-led turnaround process. Potential collaborators would include ArtsRising, Johns Hopkins University, Diplomas Now, and the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education.

Under the District’s initial closing plan, Beeber was to expand to a K-8 school. The community, however, voiced concerns about sending younger students from Gompers and Overbrook elementaries, schools formerly designated for closure, to Beeber, a school that had been designated as "persistently dangerous" based on state criteria.

In February, the District reversed itself on the plans for Gompers and Overbrook and instead added Beeber, along with M. Hall Stanton School, to its revised closure list. Because there was not adequate time for community discussion about the two newly added schools, they were not included in the School Reform Commission’s March 7 vote that resulted in 23 school closures. The SRC will vote later this spring on whether to close Beeber and Stanton.