NBC10 Philadelphia - Monique Braxton
Hundreds rallied outside of the Philadelphia School District building after the superintendent announced a plan to close 37 schools and realign 18. NBC10's Monique Braxton reports.
Philadelphia School Superintendent William Hite Jr. spoke at a Thursday afternoon press conference about the recommendation to close 37 schools as part of an overhaul of the Philadelphia School District and what it could mean for thousands of students.
He called it a difficult process but says these are tough but necessary decisions.
"This is a historic moment for the School District of Philadelphia. There are changes on the horizon, but there are also opportunities. As we navigate this journey, we are guided by belief that all students in this district can and will be successful and that the public education is an institution worth saving," said Hite.
He said the closure of 37 buildings and changing of grade configurations in 18 schools is meant to achieve two goals -- to improve academic outcomes for all students and to ensure financial sustainability, stability and the survival of the Philadelphia School District.
The plan that needs to be approved by the School Reform Commission, is expected to significantly improve the building utilization rate from 68 percent to around 80 percent, according to Hite.
"These recommendations will resort in the movement of 17,000 students, more than 10 percent of our student population," said Hite.
The plan would include the investment of millions of dollars towards safety, climate, academic enhancements and renovations.
"As an educator and as a parent, I realize that the recommendations will be shocking, painful, emotional and disruptive for many communities -- not least all of our students, families and our staff," said Hite. He assured the impact to teacher jobs will be minimal.
A series of community meetings will be held over the next several days to explain how they arrived at the list of schools. Then in January, school officials will head out in the community for another series of meetings to get feedback and answer questions.
Before the SRC begins their deliberations on these recommendations, school officials will hold a third series of meetings in February to respond to all the community's comments and concerns.