This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Superintendent William Hite, in a morning-after interview about school closings on Radio Times, said, "It was an emotional day, and it’s been an emotional process." Hite reiterated his view that the closings were necessary due to the District’s precarious financial position: "We’re in a crisis point in the School District. … The only thing we can control is spending."
Asked about his reaction to the passionate testimony defending schools Thursday night, Hite said, "Every time we talk specifically about a school, these are very challenging conversations and very difficult testimonies to listen to." But the District, he said, has to act to stabilize its finances and also deal directly with "schools that are not serving children. … Schools that are declining in enrollment and have … lower than expected student outcomes — we have to take a hard look at all of those."
Speaking on the close 3-2 vote to close University City High School over protests that the school is on an upswing, Hite defended the decision, citing the school’s declining enrollment, the building’s condition, and student achievement levels. "They’re nowhere near where a school like that should be, and they’re at 20 percent capacity."
Also part of the conversation were NewsWorks education reporter Benjamin Herold and city Chief Education Officer Lori Shorr.