When the school year comes to an end in Philadelphia this June, crews from the School District of Philadelphia will immediately start stripping down nearly two dozen buildings to prepare for their sale.
The district is vacating 23 schools as part of a master plan to save money and consolidate facilities across the city.
Fernando Gallard, spokesman for the district, says the process is called “mothballing” and will start right away.
“That will start immediately as we consider the buildings to be of no use to us,” he said. Gallard says the district is hoping to sell the buildings as quickly as possible to get them off their books.
To mothball the buildings, district facility staffers will first remove equipment and furniture. Gallard says there’s no specific timeframe to clear out the buildings and that the jobs vary depending on each school's size.
Gallard says then workers begin to shut down unnecessary utilities and other services.
Once everything is removed, the school buildings will be locked down. That could include padlocking doors and boarding windows.
The buildings, he says, will be checked on often until ownership is transferred to whoever buys the defunct schools.
“There’s still going to be a building engineer that will most likely go to each one of these buildings at least once a day to make sure they are heated, the alarm is on, that everything is functioning,” says Gallard.
A building engineer already visits a handful of school buildings that were closed previously to ensure everything is secure.
“They’ll do whatever they deem necessary to keep the building safe,” he said.
The district expects to save tens of millions of dollars by closing the 23 schools. The money earned from the property sales would provide additional cash.
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The move has caused strife between the district and parents, students and education advocates.
Gallard says a plan is in place to ensure the communities surrounding the shuttered schools will get a say in how the buildings are re-developed.