PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Parents and students of Ben Franklin High School and Science Leadership Academy learned Thursday where they will continue their classes. The building that houses the two schools has been closed almost two weeks after asbestos was found inside, impacting 1,000 students.
The students will be separating to three different locations. Philadelphia School District Superintendent Dr. William Hite says the locations were picked unanimously from the task force that was formed after the schools were forced to close.
Students and staff at Benjamin Franklin High School will now be going to the former Khepera Charter School at 926 W. Sedgley St., beginning Monday, Oct. 14. The site has the capacity to house the entire school community.
Hite says those at Science Leadership Academy will be relocated to the School District of Philadelphia building at 440 N. Broad St. and the Rodelph Shalmon synagogue at 615 N. Broad St. in Center City. Classes also begin Monday for students.
Hite says these places were selected due to the close proximity to the schools and the Broad Street Line.
The location that houses the two schools was undergoing a $37 million renovation when asbestos was found in the building’s boiler room. Hite says the goal is to reopen the building after winter break.
“I want to be clear, the new shared campus for Ben Franklin and SLA will not reopen until three things happen: major construction is complete, environmental testing is conducted, and the building is approved for reoccupancy,” Hite said.
Students are scheduled to be at these temporary locations for at least the rest of the semester. The cost to rent both locations will be $155,000 and the money will come from the operating budget.
Hite apologized again for what happened.
“We significantly underestimated the challenge of maintaining a healthy school environment at the shared campus while conducting construction. We know this has resulted in lost instructional time and major disruptions in the lives of our students, our staff and our families,” Hite said.
Leslie Marant, a mother of student at Science Leadership Academy, was on the task force that helped pick the locations.
“I’m satisfied. It wasn’t easy,” Marant said. “I know what works for SLA. I think staying here with the campus model and going to another site that’s just a block away works for our community.”
The district scrapped previous plans to relocate the students to high schools in Strawberry Mansion and South Philadelphia after a contentious town hall meeting.