Proposal for Cook-Wissahickon to relocate to Levering building taken off the table

A last-minute effort to keep William Levering Elementary students at the school’s Ridge Avenue building in Roxborough appears to be over.

Citing declining enrollment and a lack of students from the school’s catchment area, the School District of Philadelphia recommended in November that Levering be closed as part of its Facilities Master Plan, an effort aimed, in part, at addressing ongoing budget woes.

If approved by the city’s School Reform Commission, AMY Northwest, a special admissions middle school in Mount Airy, would move into Levering’s building. Levering students would have the option of attending AMY Northwest, Cook-Wissahickon Elementary, James Dobson Elementary or Thomas Mifflin Elementary.

In response to the district’s plan, Cook-Wissahickon parent Carol Haslam and Levering parent Julie Anna Melnick presented a complex counterproposal during a March 3 hearing before the SRC.

Under the pair’s plan, Cook-Wissahickon would re-locate up the road to Levering’s building. The school’s respective catchment areas would then be merged so that Levering students could attend Cook-Wissahickon. AMY Northwest would move into Cook-Wissahickon’s current building on East Salaignac Street.

Many members of the Cook-Wissahickon community expressed concerns with the plan, including possible overcrowding and the need to keep the neighborhood school in the Wissahickon neighborhood. During a private Home & School Association meeting last Thursday, board members voted against the proposal, according to Haslam, the body’s president.

Haslam said a formal copy of the plan will not be sent to the School District for consideration.

“I’m perfectly fine with that,” she said. “What matters is the well-being of these kids.”

School District spokesman Fernando Gallard confirmed that no proposal has been sent, adding that the district will not look into Haslam and Melnick’s plan unless it does.

AMY Northwest Principal Marco Zanoni said he wasn’t surprised that the counterproposal was shot down given how late in the game it was presented. The SRC will vote on whether to close Levering, along with eight other schools, during its regularly scheduled meeting on March 29.

“It really doesn’t change anything for me,” said Zanoni. “Our goal is to open in September with the least amount of disruption and distraction to the program.”

Zanoni said the school has already started conducting interviews with Levering students interested in attending AMY Northwest next year.

Levering Principal Gina Steiner was not immediately available for comment Monday.

Editor’s note: The plan to relocate Cook-Wissahickon to Levering’s building was proposed by two parents of students in Levering Elementary and Cook-Wissahickon. This was not a proposal presented by Cook-Wissahickon, as the article stated earlier. 

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