Ten schools would be spared closures or program mergers if new recommendations issued this morning by Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. are adopted.
The 10 — Meade, Cooke, Duckrey, Morris, McCloskey, Lankenau, Gompers, Overbrook Elementary, McMichael, Strawberry Mansion High — came off the closing, merger or program list. AMY at James Martin, which was to move into the Penn Treaty School, will now remain in its current building and expand.
Two closures were added: M.H. Stanton and Beeber Middle.
Overall, there will be 29 building closures, down from the 37 originally proposed.
Other changes include: Vaux High, which would have closed but re-opened as new K-8 schools, will close outright. The district's military academies, at Leeds and Elverson, were slated to merge but move to the closing Roosevelt Middle School. Now they will merge at Elverson.
The changes came after Hite and his staff listened to over 4,000 people give impassioned pleas to spare various Philadelphia School District buildings that were on the initial closing list, which was released in December.
Community members also submitted 38 formal alternative proposals, some of which factored into the revised recommendations.
All of the changes will be voted on by the School Reform Commission on March 7 except the two new closures, Beeber and M.H. Stanton. Those will be voted on at a later date.
In an interview last week, Hite said changes were coming, and that they were not just "for change's sake. There are better recommendations that have come."
In a statement released Tuesday, Hite said that he was grateful for the community's input. “Although I wish we could have avoided closing any school, I do believe that the amended recommendations address the concerns from many parents, students and residents," Hite said. "I hope that we can move forward in minimizing disruption for our students and providing better options for families.”
Hite, in an interview, said the closings would save about $24 million eventually, though not in the first year. Initially the district had projected about $28 million in savings.
"We would have to look for those savings in other areas," Hite said. "We are in the process of doing that now."
The neighborhood most impacted by the changes in North Philadelphia. Strawberry Mansion High, which was to close, will now stay open - with plans for expansion and new programs, including a "middle college" program like the one in place in the Prince George's County, Md. system where Hite was previously schools chief.
Several North Philadelphia schools on the list have also been spared: Meade, Duckrey, and Morris, though M.H. Stanton will now close.