District To Announce 36 Philadelphia School Closures Today

District To Announce 36 Philadelphia School Closures Today

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PHILADELPHIA -

The School District of Philadelphia is expected to announce plans to close 36 schools during a news conference this afternoon on its reorganization plan.

Superintendent Dr. William R. Hite is expected to name the schools at a 2 p.m. news conference. Administrators are trying to deal with cuts in funding and increased enrollment in charter schools.

WATCH LIVE @ 2 p.m.: Philadelphia School District Announcing Closures

The district says its announcement will highlight recommendations to reduce excess capacity, standardize grade configuration and decrease capital expenses. Recommendations will also expand efforts to improve safety and educational programs and supports for students.

The moves must take place to put schools "on the road to a higher-performing school system that improves academic outcomes for all students and is financially sustainable," the district says.

Meanwhile, the teachers' union is already reacting to the planned closures, calling them "disheartening, yet not surprising."

Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan said the district is "once again employing the same tactic of devaluing, defunding and destroying traditional neighborhood public schools."

"In its bottom line-focused rush to close neighborhood schools, the SRC is turning its back on the parents, students and communities that will be affected by these closures," Jordan said. "This course of action has already failed to raise student achievement in the past, it has disrupted the lives of schoolchildren, and it has added blight and dangerous conditions in neighborhoods where these large, vacant buildings are located. Closing neighborhood schools is not only ineffective education policy—in the long term, it's not even sound fiscal policy when you factor in the costs of insuring and securing vacant buildings."

Jordan said the union will work with parents and communities to fight the closures.

There is a protest against the closures planned to coincide with the announcement.  The rally has been organized by the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS) - a "group of concerned students, parents, teachers and others committed to improving Philadelphia schools by collecting feedback from communities throughout the City and implementing proven strategies from school districts around the country."

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