By Mike DeNardo
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Public hearings resume today, on the plan to permanently close 29 Philadelphia public schools (see related story). Emotions ran high at the School Reform Commission last night.
Chanting “Save our Schools” and “Moratorium,” a few dozen opponents to the school closing plan marched into the School Reform Commission meeting, carrying pictures of Governor Corbett and Mayor Nutter. They quieted down after a few minutes and the SRC began hearing three days of testimony on the plan.
Superintendent William Hite said the district can’t afford to maintain underutilized schools. “The district’s financial challenges jeopardize its survival.”
School activists, though, pleaded for their schools to be spared. Strawberry Mansion High School principal Linda Cliatt-Wayman, whose school was spared, said nearby L.P. Hill Elementary should be taken off the list.
“These young children deserve the opportunity to receive an education where they live,” Cliatt-Wayman said. “They deserve to be given the message — where you live has value.”
Parent Magdalena Cancel wondered why Taylor Elementary — where Cole Hamels’ foundation just built a playground — is targeted for closure.
“We just got a playground,” Cancel said. “And now you’re telling us that we’re closing? Insane!”
State Representative Stephen Kinsey testified closing Fulton Elementary, Roosevelt Middle and Germantown High schools would have a “grave impact” on his neighborhood. “The proposal on which you are planning to pursue will actually eliminate the elementary, the middle and the high school all in central Germantown.”
The five-member School Reform Commission will hear more testimony today and tomorrow, before voting March 7th.