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Ben Franklin and SLA to relocate to sites recommended by task force

Students, staff will begin classes at new locations on Monday.

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

UPDATE: Superintendent Hite announced Thursday that Ben Franklin students would start school Monday at the former Khepera Charter school at 926 Sedgley Ave. while students from Science Leadership Academy would split between District headquarters at 440 N. Broad Street and Rodeph Shalom at 615 N. Broad Street.

WATCH LIVE: Dr. William Hite, superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia, shares an update on the relocation of the Benjamin Franklin and Science Leadership Academy school communities.MORE:

Posted by FOX 29 on Thursday, October 10, 2019

At a meeting with parents and then at a meeting of the Board of Education’s Facilities and Finance Committee, Hite apologized for the upheaval. Board of Education chair Joyce Wilkerson called the episode “a sobering time” for the District. Hite and board members said that they would develop more contingency plans and “swing” sites to better prepare for contingencies like what happened here — the emergency shutdown of a facility due to fears about unsafe conditions. END UPDATE

Prior story: SLA-Ben Franklin task force seeks input on new relocation proposals

A Science Leadership Academy-Ben Franklin High School task force – comprising staff, students, parents, and principals from the two schools, as well as District officials – has developed new recommendations to temporarily house more than 1,000 students while construction continues on their shared building. The ongoing project to renovate the building at 550 N. Broad St. has disturbed asbestos insulation and shaken loose dangerous airborne fibers, prompting its closure to students and staff.

The task force formed quickly after the high school communities rejected Superintendent William Hite’s proposals to relocate students at either Strawberry Mansion or South Philadelphia High Schools. Those alternative sites were presented at two crowded, contentious town hall meetings on Monday.

Instead, the task force is recommending separate sites for the two high schools to relocate for an anticipated three-month stay. Hite aims to select locations Thursday morning and move students into the new sites on Monday, Oct. 14.

The task force is unanimously recommending that SLA move into 440 N. Broad St., School District headquarters, which is near the Ben Franklin building, with additional space at either Rodeph Shalom, across Broad Street, or the nearby Cathedral Building at 19th and Wood Streets.

For Ben Franklin students, the task force unanimously recommended the former site of Khepera Charter School, 926 W. Sedgley Ave.

The former Eastern University Charter School at 3300 Henry Ave. in East Falls is listed as a backup option for either school.

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