Click on the picture and go to timestamp 19:45 to view Tue’s testimony.
I’m here tonight to speak on the Strawberry Mansion “Phase out” decision. As a community member, this seemingly abrupt decision has left us confused, angry, and hurt. Due to the lack of transparency, we are concerned that this decision will have negative, long lasting impact on the current students and community in Strawberry Mansion.
The School District claims that they had a meeting with the community prior to announcing the decision to phase out. Why then when we door knocked neighbors, talked with teachers, and asked students, did they have no clue a phase out was even in the works. It seems like The School district held a small, unpublicized, meeting with a few individuals from the community to be able to lay claim that they “consulted” the community. This is outrageous.
There is much confusion on why the comprehensive highschool is being closed, if its being closed, what does “Complex” mean, and which programs will be using the space after 3 years. Last week, Dr. Hite told a few of us stakeholders here at the SRC meeting that the school is NOT closing, and that they are temporarily withholding a 9thgrade for one year to allow time to find the necessary programs to bring to strawberry mansion – and to advertise the new additions, in order to reopen 9thgrade enrollment the year after.
We are skeptical and weary of these promises – for good reason. In 2013, when the school district placed Strawberry Mansion in the turnaround network, they made similar promises. However, what the school, the students, and the staff have witnessed and can attest to, especially this year, is the total removal of existing programs like the culinary program and building maintenance programs this year.
We have no reason to believe that this phase out decision, and the subsequent “complex” is meant to benefit the existing community, and students at all. To this point, one of the suggested programs to be placed in the “complex” is the Workshop school. The Workshop School is a city wide program that requires an application process – which means that there are no guarantees the neighborhood students could even attend the complex.
The community has keen intuition on the workings in their neighborhood, and they can’t help but notice the decision to push this narrative of a phase out, goes hand in hand with the growing development and gentrification in the neighborhood. According to a recent PhillyCurbed article, in 2018 alone, the property value in Strawberry Mansion has increased up to 40%. To the community, the message is clear. We want your space – but we don’t want you. The lack of guarantees to neighborhood students is evidence of that.
1) No Strawberry Mansion Education Complex
2) We want the comprehensive school. Bring back 9thgrade.
3) Restore all programs.