Philadelphia school district talks capital budget with planning commission

City Planner Jametta Johnson and two Philadelphia School District officials told the planning commission that new and remodeled schools are being built with the environment in mind.

West Philadelphia High School, which will open in September, is expected to open with a gold LEEDS rating, said Leigh Anne Clark, the district’s operations manager for planning and construction (PlanCon) process. Willard Elementary is silver certified, and so is Bridesburg Elementary’s new addition.

Watch the complete presentation and discussion

The School of the Future has a vegetative roof, is designed so that daylighting replaces electrical lighting as much as possible, and uses recycled rainwater to flush toilets.

The district is part of a national pilot program where schools use energy efficiency to save on operating and utility costs, said Clark during the report on the district’s capital program.

Under current economic constraints, Clark said, the district realizes that the focus must be on renovating and adding to current buildings, rather than new construction.

Johnson said city planners are working with the school district on its strategic plan, called Imagine 2014. When Phase II is completed at the end of the year, it will contain long-term facility options – which schools will be kept, which ones will be renovated, which ones will be replaced with new buildings, and which ones will be closed. This information will be presented to the public, she said.

Johnson and Planning Commission Chairman and Deputy Mayor for Planning and Development Alan Greenberger noted that schools are an important part of any community, and will be central to the upcoming district plans that are part of the city’s in-the-works comprehensive plan.

School yards with green space and recreation facilities that are open to the public are part of the city’s Greenworks plan. The district plans will also need to consider  how to best re-use any buildings   from schools that close, Greenberger said.

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