80,000 new books for Philly schools

Students in Jamie Ott’s third-grade class gather around former Gov. Ed Rendell to hold up a huge check for $750,000 to the school district for books on Monday at Ludlow Elementary School.

As far as Syhere Evans was concerned, it was a good day.

Dignitaries had descended on Syhere's classroom at Ludlow Elementary on Monday, and that was cool. They were interrupting his schoolwork a little bit, but they brought with them a big check that would mean 80,000 new books for kids all around the city.

"You can find out a lot of information in a book," said Syhere, 8, a third grader at Ludlow, on West Master Street in North Philadelphia.

As Syhere and his classmates looked on, former Gov. Ed Rendell announced that the host committee of the 2016 Democratic National Convention was donating $750,000 to place classroom libraries in Philadelphia elementary schools.

The money will go to the Fund for the School District of Philadelphia, the nonprofit that supports the system. It will be funneled directly into the Right Books Campaign, which exists to place the libraries in every K-3 classroom in the city.

"This is a monumental day for the School District of Philadelphia," Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said. "This will have a long-lasting impact."

About half of Philadelphia's third graders cannot read at grade level, Mayor Kenney said. The district is in the midst of a campaign to significantly bolster early-literacy efforts.

Kenney predicted that the classroom libraries would help turn the tide.

"The more students we have reading on grade level, the more students we're going to have graduating on time," the mayor said.

The donation came as the Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee winds up business.

The committee's "legacy gift," officials said, represents a high point for those involved.

"We had hoped that we would leave something behind that would have a lasting impact," Rendell said.

Randee Summers, a Ludlow third grader, eyed the giant cardboard check Rendell handed Hite and others appreciatively.

"That's a nice thing," said Randee, 9. "Books are very interesting."

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