Hite, Hamels huddle: 'a positive meeting'


Philadelphia Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. met with Phillies lefthander Cole Hamels and others from the pitcher's foundation today, and officials proclaimed it "a very positive meeting."

The foundation started by Hamels and his wife Heidi has given hundreds of thousands to city public schools in recent years - money for playgrounds and libraries, audio equipment, gardens and other school improvements. 

But a number of the schools the foundation donated to have landed on the list of 37 schools the district wants to close in June.  Taylor Elementary in North Philadelphia, for instance, just got a $300,000 playground installed thanks to the foundation, and it could shut its doors forever at the end of the school year.

At the time the closings were announced, foundation officials said they were "shocked and dismayed," according to the Public School Notebook.  They asked for a meeting with Hite and vowed to fight the closures.

But Hite proclaimed the Thursday meeting a good one, according to spokesman Fernando Gallard. 

"The goal was to further strengthen the relationship between the district and the foundation," said Gallard.  "We have to work together even closer now that the district is in a period of change - to make sure that the foundation's efforts are appropriately targeted.  They walked out with a sense of recommitment."

Gallard said that the Hamels Foundation "will be a key player" in determining where the donated equipment would go if the School Reform Commission votes to close the schools.  A vote is scheduled for March 7.

"The goal," Gallard said, "is to find a home for that equipment."