As the School District of Philadelphia again faces budget-balancing hurdles, a push to sell off buildings closed last June in its facilities master plan gathered steam this week.
On Monday, Mayor Michael A. Nutter and Superintendent William Hite announced that the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) would manage the potential-sales process of 20 buildings.
That includes Germantown High School and Fulton Elementary, which are located across Haines Street from one another in central Germantown.
The GHS listing price is currently $3.3 million, and Fulton comes in at $1.25 million, according to the PIDC website.
When the GHS closure was announced, and pleas from the community denied, a primary concern was how abandoned buildings would impact the neighborhood.
In March, Camelot Schools dropped its pursuit of moving one of its three alternative-education programs into the GHS building.
That happened as a grassroots group formed in an effort to attract educational operations to the GHS property.
Three months ago, the Germantown High School Task Force set out on that mission and found it needed substantial funding to do so.
Julie Stapleton-Carroll, who founded Wissahickon Charter School in Germantown, is spearheading that task-force effort.
She said Wednesday that the sales move was not unexpected as the district intended to do this in the fall.
“The fact that [GHS] is on the market now isn’t necessarily surprising, but I am a little disappointed that a forum to describe the process was cancelled,” she told NewsWorks. “Using the PIDC is smart. For the [task-force] project, I think it lights a fire under us to accelerate our efforts, our planning. I don’t see this as an indication that the district isn’t interested in new ideas.”
To that end, she shared that she has a meeting with a district new-schools representative today and the task force will meet Thursday morning to discuss the matter.
“The district is looking for ways to provide excellent education, but they’re so overwhelmed that it’s difficult to see the trees through the forest. That’s what we’re trying to help them do,” said Stapleton-Carroll, who sits on the board of a Germantown United CDC “which sees the [GHS property] as an important part” of helping reinvigorate the neighborhood’s economy.
A series of two-a-day open houses for potential buyers of all 20 buildings will be held between May 19 and June 2.
GHS and Fulton will be shown on Thursday, May 22 from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. respectively, according to phlschoolsales.org.
Offers can already be submitted, and RSVPs are requested to attend the open houses.
Among six properties not up for sale as part of this effort is the shuttered John L. Kinsey School on Limekiln Pike in West Oak Lane. According to a press release, the district noted that the half-dozen properties are being held for “potential educational re-use.”
Said Nutter in a press release about the sale effort, “Pending final approval by the School District and the School Reform Commission, the sale of these properties will relieve the School District of the cost to maintain these properties, will reduce debt service and will provide additional resources to help give our school children of Philadelphia the quality public education they deserve.”