Northwest Philadelphia residents concerned School District plan will compromise safety

Hundreds of students, parents and community leaders packed into Martin Luther King High School’s auditorium Wednesday night to learn and ask questions about the School District of Philadelphia’s recent recommendation to close or relocate 44 schools at the end of this academic year.During the meeting – the last of four citywide information sessions on the latest iteration of the district’s Facilities Master Plan – concerns were raised about a range of topics, including safety, and class size. Audience members also threw out counterproposals to some of the district’s list of recommendations, which includes shutting down six Northwest Philadelphia schools.

The schools slated to close are Germantown High School, Theodore Roosevelt Middle School and Robert Fulton Elementary, which are located in Germantown. Also on the list are John F. McCloskey and John L. Kinsey elementaries in West Oak Lane and Jay Cooke Elementary in Logan.

The closings, announced last Thursday, would affect more than 2,600 students in Northwest Philadelphia.

Some audience members were particularly concerned about the possible closure of Germantown High School.

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As part of its plan, the district has recommended that GHS students transfer to Martin Luther King High or Roxborough High should the school close. Germantown’s rivalry with MLK on and off the football field has some parents and students worried about violence.

“We are aware of the rivalry between King and Germantown. We will use our resources towards that. We will work with police, the district and community,” said Chief Inspector Cynthia Dorsey, who was on hand to field safety-related questions.

Others were worried about the possibility of having more students crossing hazardous intersections and cross walks as the school district looks to right-size its physical plant.

A crossing guard for students at Edmonds Elementary said she doesn’t want her legacy to be “teddy bears and candles at the corner of her intersection,” if she has to assist hundreds more students by herself.

Dorsey said such issues will be examined before any of the district’s recommendations become final.

Still others asked why their school was slated to be closed in the first place. Members of the McCloskey Elementary community were particularly confused given.

The district’s plan calls for McClosky, which is currently a K-6 school, send its students in K-4 over to Edmonds and transfer grades 5-6 to Leeds Middle School.

A Fulton parent made a suggestion that all of the school’s students should, “just transfer to Germantown and make Germantown a K-8 school.”

While some left the meeting with unanswered questions and others with a sense of worry, the school district says they will listen to all recommendations and take them into consideration.

The city’s School Reform Commission has the final say on all school closures, consolidations and recommendations. They are expected to vote on the district’s package of recommendations in March.

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