Philadelphia’s new contingent of community schools, by the numbers

Southwark School

Southwark School

 There is no such thing as a typical community school.

Different versions of that sentiment have been repeated ad infinitum by members of Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration as they’ve readied the public for the new community schools initiative. Now that the city has officially named its first nine community schools, those careful disclaimers have been borne out.

The group of schools named Monday represent a wide range of student subgroups, academic track records, and neighborhoods. No two schools better represent that range than Edward Gideon north of Brewerytown and Southwark near East Passyunk Avenue.

Gideon sits in a census tract where more than half of the residents live below the federal poverty line, where the median family income is just a hair over $12,000 a year, and where two-thirds of residents over 16 are either not in the labor force or unemployed.

When principal Shauneille Taylor talks about the challenges facing her students, she’s thinking about the basic necessities. Taylor keeps a cupboard full of emergency granola bars, dispensing them to students she can tell haven’t eaten.

“At times, that’s the only meal that they’re receiving,” she said.

The neighborhood surrounding Southwark is a different world.

Located three-and-a-half blocks east of a booming commercial corridor, Southwark is in the crosshairs of gentrification. Median home values in the surrounding neighborhood are $75,000 above the city average, and rose nearly $20,000 between 2010 and 2014.

Still, Southwark’s students face enormous challenges, in part because the school population doesn’t yet reflect the changes in the surrounding neighborhood. Almost half of Southwark students are English language learners, and many have fled violence and poverty in their home countries, said Beth Dougherty, chair of the East Passyunk Crossing Civic Association’s Education Committee.

“When kids hear a thunderclap or hear a police siren, they dive under the desk because these are kids from refugee camps,” said Dougherty.

Southwark will likely focus more on uplifting the school community itself and less on the community surrounding the school, she said. Leaders also want to make sure they aren’t using the community schools initiative to improve Southwark in a way that accelerates gentrification.

“We’re really aware of this, and we are struggling ourselves to figure out how to keep the neighborhoods from basically kicking kids and families out,” said Dougherty. “You make a school great, and then the families can’t afford to live there. How do you stop that from happening?”

All of which is to say, each community school will be confronting a distinct set of problems.

Snapshots

Below we’ve compiled some basic data on each school for a sense of the variety represented in this first cohort of nine schools — both in terms of the schools themselves and the neighborhoods where they reside. We also highlighted the number in red if the data point was the lowest in a given category or indicated the greatest need. We used green to highlight the opposite.

William T. Tilden Middle School

Grades: 5-8

Council District: 2

Enrollment: 470

English Language Learners: 12.8 percent

Special Education: 17.9 percent

Average Daily Attendance: 83 percent

Rank on School District Progress Report: 36th out of 36 middle schools

School Performance Profile Academic Score: 32.6

NEIGHBORHOOD

Adults reporting poor or faith health: 35.2 percent

Adults forgoing health care due to cost: 11.8 percent

Poverty Rate (census tract): 28.5 percent

Median Home Value (census tract): $79,500

2014 Shooting Victims (police district): 85

 

Murell Dobbins CTE High School

Grades: 9-12

Council District: 5

Enrollment: 599

English Language Learners: 2 percent

Special Education: 15.5 percent

Average Daily Attendance: 92.3 percent

Rank on School District Progress Report: 60th out of 82 high schools

School Performance Profile Academic Score: 44.6

NEIGHBORHOOD

Adults reporting poor or fair health: 37 percent

Adults forgoing health care due to cost: 19.4 percent

Poverty Rate (census tract): 33.6 percent

Median Home Value (census tract): $53,400

2014 Shooting Victims (police district): 117

Kensington Health Sciences Academy

Grades: 9-12

Council District: 1

Enrollment: 442

English Language Learners: 18.3 percent

Special Education: 28.1 percent

Average Daily Attendance: 83.9 percent

Rank on School District Progress Report: 65th out of 82 high schools

School Performance Profile Academic Score: 38.9

NEIGHBORHOOD

Adults reporting poor or fair health: 24.8 percent

Adults forgoing health care due to cost: 30 percent

Povery rate (census tract): 17.1 percent

Media home value (census tract): $111,100

2014 Shooting Victims (police district): 42

South Philadelphia High School

Grades: 9-12

Coucil District: 2

Enrollment: 710

English Language Learners: 22.8 percent

Special Education: 30.8 percent

Average Daily Attendance: 83.3 percent

Rank on School District Progress Report: 81st out of 82 high schools

School Performance Profile Academic Score: 43.6

NEIGHBORHOOD

Adults reporting poor or fair health: 21.9 percent

Adults forgoing health care to cost: 14.7 percent

Poverty Rate (census tract): 16.2 percent

Median Home Value (census tract): $179,300

2014 Shooting Victims (police district): 20

 

Edward Gideon Elementary/Middle School 

Grades: K-8

Council District: 5

Enrollment: 328

English Language Learners: 0

Special Education: 14.6 percent

Average Daily Attendance: 94.8 percent

Rank on School District Progress Report: 109th out of 140 K-8 Schools

School Performance Profile Academic Score: 48.3

NEIGHBORHOOD

Adults reporting poor or fair health: 37 percent

Adults forgoing health care due to cost: 19.4 percent

Poverty Rate (census tract): 53.9 percent

Median Home Value (census tract): $41,400

2014 Shooting Victims (police district): 117

Southwark Elementary/Middle School

Grades: K-8

Council District: 1

Enrollment: 660

English Language Learners: 49.8 percent

Special Education: 9.5 percent

Average Daily Attendance: 96.1 percent

Rank on School District Progress Report: 55th out of 140 K-8 Schools

School Performance Profile Academic Score: 57

NEIGHBORHOOD

Adults reporting poor or fair health: 21.9 percent

Adults forgoing health care due to cost: 14.7 percent

Poverty Rate (census tract): 12.6 percent

Median Home Value (census tract): $218,000

 2014 Shooting Victims (police district): 20

F.S. Edmonds Elementary School

Grades: K-5

Council District: 9

Enrollment: 486

English Language Learners: 0.6 percent

Special Education: 18.5 percent

Average Daily Attendance: 96.3 percent

Rank on School District Progress Report: 32nd out of 59 elementary schools

School Performance Profile Academic Score: 62

NEIGHBORHOOD

Adults reporting poor or fair health: 25 percent

Adults forgoing health care due to cost: 14.3 percent

Poverty Rate (census tract): 13 percent

Median Home Value (census tract): $157,300

2014 Shooting Victims (police district): 62

James Logan Elementary School

Grades: K-5

Council District: 8

Enrollment: 264

English Language Learners: 0.8 percent

Special Education: 16.7 percent

Average Daily Attendance: 94.5 percent

Rank on School District Progress Report: 21st out of 59 elementary schools

School Performance Profile Academic Score: 56.8

NEIGHBORHOOD

Adults reporting poor or fair health: 25 percent

Adults forgoing health care due to cost: 14.3 percent

Poverty Rate (census tract): 22.4 percent

Median Home Value (census tract): $83,000

2014 Shooting Victims (police district): 98

William Cramp Elementary School

Grades: K-5

Council District: 1

Enrollment: 538

English Language Learners: 23 percent

Special Education: 13.4 percent

Average Daily Attendance: 94.5 percent

Rank on School District Progress Report: 36th out of 59 elementary schools

School Performance Profile Academic Score: 50.5

NEIGHBORHOOD

Adults reporting poor or fair health: 30 percent

Adults forgoing health care due to cost: 25.4 percent

Poverty Rate (census tract): 62.4 percent

Median Home Value (census tract): $64,000

2014 Shooting Victims (police district): 130

Philadelphia — City Averages

English Language Learners: 9.8 percent

Special Education: 14 percent

Adults reporting poor or fair health: 23.6 percent

Adults forgoing health care due to cost: 13.4 percent

Poverty Rate: 26.7 percent

Median Home Value: $143,200

 

Note on the data: The poverty rates and median home values come from the U.S. Census. All other figures are courtesy of the Mayor’s Office of Education.

Correction: A prior version of this article referred to the East Passyunk Avenue Civic Association. The correct name is the East Passyunk Crosing Civic Association. The story has been updated to reflect this change.

 

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.