At Thursday night’s heated School Reform Commission meeting, many of the 80 people who signed up to speak demanded a one-year moratorium to enact a proposal to close 37 school buildings and relocate or reconfigure dozens more.
Responding directly to one speaker, SRC Chairman Pedro Ramos said, “I’d be lying if I said a moratorium was in any way feasible without doing more harm to the District academically.”
That response came less than a week after Eighth District City Councilwoman Cindy Bass, in whose area several schools including Germantown High School would be affected, aligned herself with calls for a delay.
In a statement to NewsWorks last week, Bass noted, “Although I understand the need for the School District to search for innovative ways to save money, I’m concerned that the District’s recommended closing of 37 schools was done with haste.
“The School District should abstain from any type of decision on school closures for a year,” she continued, “during which time, it should publicize the process used in reaching logical conclusions for school closing.”
Bass questions Ramos’ statement
NewsWorks shared Ramos’ comments from a Philadelphia Public School Notebook article on Friday morning at Wired Beans in Germantown to gauge her reaction.
Asked whether the SRC chair’s words changed her stance calling for a moratorium, she said, “In no way.”
“[He] brings up a couple points, and my first question, when he says ‘it would do harm academically’ is what exactly is the district looking to do to bring about those results? How will their plan improve academics?” Bass said. “Let’s talk about what will academically if we go ahead with the plan next year. How exactly would a moratorium harm academics? We haven’t heard that yet.”
Having fielded concerns about student safety to, from and while in school, Bass noted that she thinks the district proposal is solely about finances, and that it was done in haste so neighborhoods such as that rallying to Germantown High School’s defense had no say.
A moratorium would include more voices, and details about academic-improvement plans, in the discussion, she said Friday.
“Let’s call this what it is: It’s about finances,” said Bass, who is planning an event next week to highlight who school closings would affect students getting to school. “We all need to admit that and then move forward from there with the discussion.”