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All eyes on the SRC this evening

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

The Notebook is providing periodic news updates about the School Reform Commission’s deliberation on the District’s closing plan throughout the evening. The meeting was scheduled to start at 5:30. You can watch a livestream of the meeting here, courtesy of the School District, and follow a Twitter feed on the same page. We welcome your comments and eyewitness accounts on this post. [Updated, 9:00 p.m.]

After a three-hour meeting, the School Reform Commission has voted to close all but four of the schools proposed for closing.

The SRC unanimously rejected the proposals to close T.M. Peirce School and Bayard Taylor School, Roosevelt Middle School, and Robeson High School. But they approved the 28 other proposals put forward by Superintendent William Hite, which will bring about the closing of 25 programs and 23 school buildings.

The commission has voted to close the following 26 schools and programs:

  • L.P. Hill Elementary
  • Reynolds Elementary
  • Whittier Elementary
  • Pratt Elementary (the building will stay in use for a preK program)
  • Vaux High School (with Dworetzky dissenting)
  • Ferguson Elementary
  • Fairhill Elementary
  • Sheridan West Academy
  • Carroll High School
  • Douglas High School
  • Germantown High School (with Dworetzky dissenting)
  • Philadelphia Military Academy at Leeds (building remains in use)
  • Fulton Elementary
  • Kinsey Elementary
  • Wilson Elementary
  • Pepper Middle
  • Shaw Middle
  • Communications Tech High School (with Dworetzky dissenting)
  • University City High School (with Dworetzky and Simms dissenting)
  • Leidy Elementary
  • Lamberton High School (building remains in use for K-8)
  • Smith Elementary
  • Abigail Vare Elementary (building to close, school to move to George Washington)
  • George Washington Elementary (building to stay open)
  • Bok Technical High School (with Dworetzky and Simms dissenting)
  • Carnell Middle Years Annex

Motivation High School will be relocated to the Turner Middle School building, and Parkway Northwest will be relocated to the Leeds Middle School building.

The SRC meeting got underway at 5:35 p.m. with public testimony, which lasted two hours, and then posed a brief series of questions to District staff — addressing issues about Robeson, Bok, Vare, and Washington. Commissioners said they planned to vote region by region on the resolutions to close and relocate schools.

Speakers opposing the District plan included several local elected officials: City Council members Cindy Bass, Jannie Blackwell, and Curtis Thomas and State Reps. W. Curtis Thomas and Stephen Kinsey. Many of the schools threatened with closing were well-represented, including Fulton, Germantown, Robeson, Taylor, and University City.

The first surprise of the evening was that protesters blocked the doors to the auditorium at District headquarters in an attempt to disrupt the meeting. Protesters were removed by police, and some arrests were reported, including American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten.

Many hundreds of opponents of the closings mobilized outside on North Broad Street. Many more headed to the meeting inside, where the auditorium was standing room only and there was a large police presence. Check for our updates on the protests and testimony.

The commission voted on 32 resolutions, which involved 29 building closures and 31 program closures. Before the SRC vote, public testimony was expected from 34 speakers.

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