Smooth opening for Philadelphia schools

Posted: September 10, 2007

The Philadelphia School District had a mostly smooth opening this morning.

The only glitches reported were a short, precautionary evacuation of the Cassidy School in Overbrook because staffers detected a gas-like odor and a momentary power outtage at the Forrest Elementary School in Holmesburg.

District spokeswoman Felicia Ward said Cassidy students and staff were out of the building for approximately 20 minutes as a precaution but that officials determined that the smell was not caused by natural gas.

The Philadelphia Gas Works and the city fire department which responded to the school determined that the odor was caused by a sewage problem and contacted the city water department, she said.

"There were only those two minor incidents," she said.

The first day of the 2007-08 academic school year for the district's 166,000 students began with a bell-ringing and ribbon-cutting ceremony at the first new elementary school completed under the district's $1.8 billion capital campaign.

The event attracted Mayor John Street; Tom Brady, the interim chief executive officer of the district; James E. Nevels, outgoing chairman of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission; and commission member Sandra Dungee Glenn, who will replace Nevels as chair on Wednesday.

The as-yet, unnamed elementary school at G Street and Hunting Park Avenue in the city's Juniata section, will accomodate approximately 800 children from prekindergarten through eighth grade.

The school was built to ease overcrowding at the Hopkinson Elementary at 4001 L St.

Contact staff writer Martha Woodall at 215-854-2789 or at

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