Grassroots group seeks cash from wealthy alumni to turn GHS plan into action

 The Germantown High School Task Force met Thursday night at state Rep. Stephen Kinsey's district office. (Aaron Moselle/WHYY)

The Germantown High School Task Force met Thursday night at state Rep. Stephen Kinsey's district office. (Aaron Moselle/WHYY)


That’s one of three action items the Germantown High School Task Force will start tackling over the next couple of weeks as it works towards bringing a new educational endeavor to the shuttered school’s building.

During a Thursday night meeting, resident Julie Stapleton-Carroll said the grassroots effort needs approximately $500,000 to turn the group’s ideas into a concrete plan.

The total would cover design work, architectural and engineering studies, marketing and legal fees, among other things.

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“If we have that, everything else will follow,” said Stapleton-Carroll, who founded Wissahickon Charter School in Germantown.

Donations sought

Securing the sum won’t likely be a simple task. The group plans to reach out to wealthy GHS alums to see if they’re interested in putting some dollars behind the group’s passion. Comcast founder Ralph Roberts is at the top of the list.

“He just needs to know about it and find out about it,” said Stapleton-Carroll. “It’s a stretch, but [it’s worth a shot].”

Bill Cosby was also mentioned.

What would the new school be?

It remains unclear exactly what form a new school would take.

Discussions at previous task-force meetings have centered on bringing a voc-tech school to the site. Providing a traditional K-12 curriculum has also been floated.

As part of an effort to better understand what configuration would benefit the community most, the task force will develop a series of community outreach efforts to get resident input.

“We do have to know what our demographic is,” said Cornelia Swinson, executive director of Germanton Restoration CDC.

State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, who hosted the meeting at his district office on Germantown Avenue, said he and Eighth District City Councilwoman Cindy Bass could organize public meetings to that end.

Interested tenant

Kinsey also told the group that Hill-Freedman Middle School, a special-admission public school in East Mt. Airy, has expressed interest in moving to GHS, one of 24 schools closed last June as part of the School District of Philadelphia’s facilities master plan.

Hill-Freedman plans to add a full high-school curriculum. It has already started serving ninth graders.

The small group appeared to be a bit mixed on the news. Some were concerned that a special-admission school may not be as good of a fit for the neighborhood as a voc-tech school.

Stapleton-Carroll said Hill-Freedman moving into the GHS building, located at High Street and Germantown Avenue, could make it easier for the task-force’s school to become a reality.

“That would make it much quicker,” she said.

Hill-Freedman would not be able to fill the building to capacity, leaving room for the possibility of co-location.

The task force may reach out to Hill-Freedman Principal Anthony Majewski to further discuss his interest in the GHS building.

In the meantime, the group also plans on asking the district to open up GHS for a walk-through so it can assess the true state of the building’s condition, among the reasons the district closed the near century-old high school.

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