Germantown High remains on school closure list, Vernon Park rally scheduled this afternoon

When state Rep. Stephen Kinsey saw Vera Primus’ name pop up on his cell phone on Tuesday morning, he readied himself for some negative news.

“I’m not happy,” the head of Germantown High School’s alumni association told Kinsey repeatedly as he drove down Route 309 towards Harrisburg.

Kinsey, who also graduated from Germantown, soon joined the club.

GHS not spared

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On Tuesday, the Philadelphia School District removed 10 schools from its list of recommended closures, including two of the six located in the city’s Northwest section, John F. McCloskey in Germantown and Jay Cooke Elementary in Logan.

The decision came after “evaluating feedback from the community meetings, alternate proposals, projected utilization and savings goals,” according to the district.

Germantown High, however, a school that students, parents and alumni have actively rallied to keep open, was kept on the chopping block for now. So too were Roosevelt Middle School, and Fulton and John L. Kinsey elementaries.

Primus called to break the news.

“I was just in disbelief,” recalled Kinsey, who headed back to his district office after Primus’ call.

Change of plans

The freshman lawmaker planned on checking in on this week’s budget hearings, but changed course to look over the district’s revised Facilities Master Plan and speak with district officials.

Under the original plan, an effort aimed, in part, at addressing an ongoing budget crisis — the district recommended that 37 schools be closed at the end of the academic year. On Tuesday, two schools were added to the list, bringing that total, following the revisions, to 29.

Primus said she wasn’t that surprised that Germantown was left on the closure list, more disappointed.

“I was hoping that it was off,” she said.

Neighborhood concerns remain

But with Germantown, Fulton and Roosevelt all still slated to close, Primus said she worries what will become of the neighborhood’s public education system.

“They’re wiping out education for kids in the Germantown community,” said Primus. “Where are kids supposed to go to school? I’m just floored.”

As upset as they are, both Kinsey and Primus pledged to keep fighting for Germantown, Roosevelt and Fulton.

“Things don’t happen until they happen and I’m not necessarily one to give up so easily,” said Kinsey.

He added that his office will explore whether a legal injunction can be used to halt the closures.

“We’re looking at every single angle,” he said.

Added Primus, “I still have hope. I still think we have an opportunity.”

Wednesday afternoon rally at Vernon Park

On Wednesday, the Save Germantown High School Coalition and Action United will host another rally in Vernon Park in Germantown.

On Thursday, the city’s School Reform Commission will kick-off a trio of public hearings on the district’s recommended building and program closures.

The SRC is scheduled to vote on all of the district’s right-sizing recommendations March 7.

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