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Countdown, Day 13: District redraws its school boundary map

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

In time for the new school year, the District has redrawn its school catchment areas that determine which schools students are eligible to attend. The new boundaries were needed after the closing of 24 schools this year, sending thousands of students to new neighborhood schools.

The new catchment maps are viewable using the District’s School Finder tool.

According to a District spokesperson, the redrawing of boundaries was directed by Deputy Chief of Staff Danielle Floyd. Neither the public nor the School Reform Commission was formally involved in the remapping.

In at least one case, the catchment area was not expanded as expected, to account for the fact that the school will be receiving students from a school that closed.

Lea Elementary in West Philadelphia was designated last spring as the school that will be receiving students who previously attended Wilson Elementary. Lea is located north of Wilson at 47th and Locust Streets. But in the new map, the boundaries for Lea’s catchment area did not change. What was formerly the Wilson catchment was incorporated into the catchments of Comegys, Harrington, and Powel elementaries, whose areas were to the south, west, and northeast of Wilson. However, Lea still will be receiving the students who attended Wilson last year, even though they do not live in Lea’s catchment area.

If you are familiar with the previous catchment areas and are able to spot any other interesting changes, please let us know.

The District website advises families to "contact the local school identified on the map to ensure that the address of your residence meets the current catchment/boundary area requirements," and adds, "If you have questions concerning school boundaries or student placement, please call the School District of Philadelphia Call Center at 215-400-4000."

The School District of Philadelphia faces an unprecedented situation – uncertainty over whether it will be in a position to open safe and functioning schools in September.

This feature, appearing each weekday, is an effort to highlight developments and motivate action as we get closer to the beginning of the school year. We encourage readers to send us information about both concerns and breakthroughs to countdown@thenotebook.org.

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