It was a solemn Friday morning in Northwest Philadelphia as students, parents and teachers grappled to come to terms with the School Reform Commission’s decision on Thursday night to shutter three neighborhood schools.
At a raucous meeting on North Broad Street, the SRC voted to close Germantown High School along with Fulton and Kinsey elementary schools, while sparing Roosevelt Middle School. All told, the SRC voted to close 23 city schools and merge or relocate five others.
While the district confirmed Friday that “the SRC has asked staff to explore the possibility of adding grades 9 through 12 at Roosevelt,” frustration lingered.
Teachers, parents, elected officials react
A top concern was how students, especially the youngest ones, will safely travel longer distances to get to school.
“Children should be safe and not have to cross streets like that,” said Sabrina Sanders, a parent of three children in district schools, referencing the large and often unfamiliar intersections children may have to cross starting in September. “It’s too big and they are too small to handle traveling by themselves.”
Sanders’ youngest child is four and currently attends Fulton Elementary. She is worried she will not be able to get all of her kids to school if they spread students out too far.
Community members and elected officials, including state Rep. Stephen Kinsey (D-Philadelphia), proposed merging Roosevelt Middle School and Fulton into the building that Germantown High School currently occupies again on Thursday night.
On Friday morning, a GHS teacher with 25 years in the district, said he thought the news would upset his students.
“They don’t want to have to leave here,” said the teacher who asked not to be identified by name. “It’s a smaller setting. They tried to keep the numbers down and now they want to put more kids in schools and increase the size of the schools. It doesn’t make any sense. It is terrible for the children of Philadelphia.”
However, he added that he wasn’t surprised with the 4-1 vote to close as, to him, the fate of GHS hadn’t been looking good for some time.
What students are saying
Rasheed Bolgr, a freshman at Germantown High School, said he previously had confidence that the district would keep his school open after attending meetings about the proposal.
Sanya Santhi, a sophomore who recently moved to Germantown, echoed his disappointment.
“I wanted to keep it open,” she said. “I am new around here so I don’t know which school I will be going to now.”
Added Zuri Collins, a fellow 10th grader, “I have to go to a new school and meet new people.” Now, Collins said she’s left to wonder whether she will make the cheerleading team at her to-be-determined new school.