I am Karel Kilimnik, retired teacher and co-founder of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools. Today another school is under attack. Dr Hite is closing Strawberry Mansion High School despite saying he is keeping the building open. No 9thgraders will be admitted in September thereby eliminating this comprehensive high school. However, there will be 9thgraders enrolled in 2019 for a project- based high school. Why is he destroying one school to insert another in its place? With the city taking over more funding responsibilities let us examine his funding priorities. This closure is a pattern repeating it self in rapidly gentrifying Strawberry Mansion. Feeder schools have been closed or turned into charters. Programs have been stripped from Mansion. Drake donated a music studio that is not used. For years the Point of Pride was a Culinary Program. It has been without a teacher for this school year. There are 9 teacher vacancies according to an assistant superintendent.
Tomorrow resolution B15 sends $13 million into the pockets of a vendor to enroll 400 students in an accelerated learning program. Why isn’t that money being used to restore programs to Mansion? In yet another resolution tomorrow night Mansion is included in a Culinary Arts Program grant for the following school year and yet there has been no Culinary Arts teacher. The District’s present spending focuses on feeding vendors instead of building up our district schools. The state funding formula needs to change to fix the inequities but you also have to examine how the district chooses to spend its limited funds. Tomorrow night almost $35 million is going to vendors and outside contractors. That money should be spent on supporting our schools – ensuring a stable teaching force, fixing the toxic buildings rife with vermin, reinstating programs that have been slashed. City funding should include eliminating tax abatements, demanding that non profits such as UPenn, Drexel, & Temple pay PILOTS, and insuring that PPA pays its share.
Some resources to learn more about the closing down of Strawberry Mansion High School and the fight to keep it open as a comprehensive high school.
Community Fights Closing of Strawberry Mansion High School | APPS
Strawberry Mansion community fighting to keep high school | Tribune
Closing Concerns for Strawberry Mansion High School | NBC10
Why does Philadelphia’s Strawberry Mansion High School only enroll 235 out of 2,267 eligible students? APPS