Space, not seats, define needs of schools

    Jaws dropped last month when it was revealed the School District of Philadelphia has 70,000 vacant seats –more than the amount of available seats at the Linc.

    But Notebook writer and former Meade Elementary principal Frank Murpy says the number is misleading.

    Murphy says he was never contacted to be part of vacant seat report while principal, but the report showed his North Philadelphia school had more than 500 empty seats.

    The numbers, he argues, account only for how many seats can fit in a given school building — not how the space is being used. While he admits declining enrollment in Meade, he said the nearly 400 students who attend the school have access to art, music, physical education and media centers that could otherwise be taken up with desks.

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    He questions whether the inflated numbers are part of a District agenda to put troubled schools into the hands of charters and other private owners.

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