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SRC preview: Closing Kensington Urban, Bok water damage, new playgrounds

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

An array of noteworthy resolutions have been slated for tonight’s School Reform Commission meeting. The SRC will be deciding on proposals from the District that include a suspension of the school code, building sales, school improvements, grant acceptances, and a request to revise the school calendar.

In advance of the meeting, Youth United for Change will be protesting the District’s plan to close Kensington Urban and merge it with another school in the same building. The student-led group successfully fought for the creation of the school and three other small high schools a decade ago.

Here are a few other planned agenda items of note to keep an eye on. The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. and can be watched live online or on PSTV.

Kensington Urban

The School District has plans to close the underperforming and underenrolled Kensington Urban Education Academy and merge the school with Kensington International Business. As it has done before, the District wants to hasten the closing process by suspending a school code provision that requires a three-month period between the school closure hearing and the SRC vote. The SRC will vote on whether to reduce that period to 45 days.

Water damage at Bok

The frigid winter caused the pipes at the vacant former Bok High to freeze and burst, leading to water damage to the first six floors. Bok’s buyer, Scannapieco Development, estimated the damages to be upwards of $1 million, but has agreed to reduce the purchase price of $2.1 million by $350,000.

New school playgrounds

Continuing the trend of playground revitalization, two elementary schools are set to get new playgrounds: William Cramp and McClure elementary schools.

Summer springboard

The District is planning to bring the summer literacy program Springboard Collaborative to six more schools: John F. Hartranft, William McKinley, James G. Blaine, Tanner Duckrey, Samuel Powel, and Morton McMichael. The $480,000 contract will provide salary and benefits for up to 36 District teachers. A $120,000 grant from Drexel will help bring the program to the university’s two partner schools, Powel and McMichael.

According to the District, average reading growth gains for the five-week program have exceeded even Springboard’s own target of 2.5 months. Attendance at the family workshops has also been outstanding.

The Gallery

The city is asking the SRC to approve the creation of a special tax increment financing district, which would allow for tax incentives for the planned redevelopment of the Gallery at Market East.

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