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2012 Year In Review: Big Changes For Philadelphia School District

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file photo (credit: KYW's Mike DeNardo)

file photo (credit: KYW’s Mike DeNardo)

Mike DeNardo Mike DeNardo
Mike DeNardo, a veteran of KYW Newsradio for more than 25 years,...
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By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – After receiving an independently-funded consultant’s report school district leadership recommended downsizing the central office and turning over school operations to so-called “achievement networks” in the springtime.

That never materialized.

The district’s national search for a new superintendent led them to William Hite, the superintendent in Price George’s County, Maryland. He arrived in a school district awash in red ink.

“We have to stabilize really quickly so that we can right ourselves. And it may not be a one-year process. This may take several years, given how significant our deficit is,” said Hite.

And it was significant. The district borrowed $300 million just to pay its bills.

As the year ended, Hite delivered the district’s dramatic plan to permanently shut the doors on one out of every six public schools.

“We are recommending the closure of 37 buildings,” said Hite.

He says the district is wasting millions on underutilized school buildings. But opponents vow to fight.

“We are the parents, we should have a say-so and input in our children’s’ education,” said one parent.

As the school closure issue carries into the new year, the newly-arrived Hite says he will release his own goals and school plan in January.

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