AMY Northwest school moves to Roxborough this week

The writing is on the wall at AMY Northwest middle school in East Mount Airy – literally.

As students begin their first full week of summer break, staff members are busy packing up the middle school for its move to William Levering Elementary’s former building in Roxborough.

Boxes line hallways, student desks sit tightly packed together and specific classroom assignments at Levering are posted on doorways.

But the work is far from over.

“This is surreal,” said Principal Marco Zanoni, who was in and out of the school throughout the weekend, including Father’s Day.

In mid-March, the city’s School Reform Commission voted to close Levering, a recommendation made by the School District of Philadelphia as part of its Facilities Master Plan.

The right-sizing effort looks to offset ongoing budget woes by shuttering schools with declining enrollments, among other things.

The SRC’s decision sealed AMY Northwest’s future at the historic, four-story building on Ridge Avenue and secured the seventh move in the school’s 30-plus year history.

On Monday morning, Justin Damm was busy packing up his sixth grade science classroom. He said the new location has its pros and cons.

“It’s kind of a trade in a lot of ways,” said Damm with several textbook-filled boxes at his feet. “It’s a long commute for some of the students, but some of the facilities are improved.”

Chris O’ Neil, a special education teacher, was a bit more direct when asked about the move, calling Levering’s campus not “as nice of a place.”

O’ Neil, who has taught with AMY since 1984, was more concerned, though, about maintaining the school’s education standards with an expanded student body. Typically, he said, academic achievement has been highest when enrollment is below 250 students.

Zanoni told NewsWorks at the end of May that there are around 310 on the books for September. There are currently 211.

AMY Northwest’s transition to Levering’s former building ends a seven-year partnership between the school and St. Therese of the Child Jesus. The School District of Philadelphia leased space for AMY from the church for approximately $200,000 a year.

“We’re sorry to see them go. It’s been a good partnership,” said Rev. Msgr. David Benz, who has headed the Catholic congregation for the past 2.5 years. “It’s been a great asset to the church.”

The last day for AMY Northwest staff is Tuesday.

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