Councilwoman Bass calls for school-closings moratorium, cites openness and safety concerns

With both a Northwest Philadelphia public meeting and the School Reform Commission’s regular session looming next week, City Councilwoman Cindy Bass told NewsWorks on Friday that the district should wait at least a year before instituting its school-closure proposal.

“Although I understand the need for the School District to search for innovative ways to save money,” Bass said, “I’m concerned that the District’s recommended closing of 37 schools was done with haste and without considering many important intangible factors.

“The School District should abstain from any type of decision on school closures for a year, during which time, it should publicize the process used in reaching logical conclusions for school closing.”

More openness

Bass’ sentiments mirrored those initially offered by Parents United for Public Education’s Rev. Leroi Simmons who, when word was getting out about the proposed list, expressed concern that the public was left out of the process.

The plan, proposed by Superintendent William Hite in December, has raised the ire of many in Bass’ Eighth District most notably at Germantown High School, which is among six Northwest Philadelphia schools on the possible-closing blocks.

The “Save Germantown High School” coalition has already held several rallies and are scheduling more.

On Tuesday night, the district will host a public meeting across the neighborhood at Martin Luther King High School’s Promise Academy, the likely landing place for many GHS students should their nearly century old high school close. (NewsWorks will cover that meeting.)

“We cannot ask our students to sacrifice their time, health and safety by being thrust into an unfamiliar, and potentially unfriendly, school environment without an understanding of how these changes will positively affect the quality of education,” concluded Bass.

While there is chatter among council members about proposing a moratorium at the Jan. 24 meeting, the legislative body has very little authority over school-district issues.

A call to School District spokesman Fernando Gallard for comment on Bass’ proposed moratorium was not immediately returned Friday morning. We will update the story with district comment as soon as it’s available.

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