Philly schools chief: No school closings recommended for this year

Posted: January 10, 2014

Citing concerns about stability and consistency, Philadelphia School District Superintendent William Hite said he will not recommend any school closings this year.

The announcement came one year after the district closed 24 schools to address steadily declining enrollment and underutilized buildings.

In announcing his decision during a conference call Friday with reporters, Hite said he was concerned that additional closures could force students into lower-performing schools.

"The primary factor is we could not guarantee, based on where space was available, we would be improving the academic environment for children," he said.

Hite conceded that last year's closures resulted in some students being forced to attend lower-performing schools "because we used utilization [rates] last year."

The superintendent said the district's financial woes did not factor into the decision, but he acknowledged it would have economic ramifications in the five-year plan.

He also would not rule out additional closures in the future. "It's not to say that we will not close schools in the future. I'm just choosing not to make that decision this year."

A report released earlier this week indicated that further cuts in services could lead to a lower credit rating in the beleaguered district, the Inquirer reported. While Hite said the report underscored the importance of this decision and others.

"It also validates why we have to continue to manage our charter school enrollment. It also validates why the negotiations with the [Philadelphia Federation of Teachers] are so important," he said.

Hite said he would offer a second action plan to bolster schools in the next two or three weeks.

"It will have more precise metrics in terms of what that work will be," he said. "It will also define what these schools should look like, and it will also define the investment we will need to make it so inside and across the school district."

" @ChroniclesofSol


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