Philadelphia education officials voted last night to close down 23 schools across the city as a necessary cost-saving measure, despite months-long emotional protests and pleas from civil rights leaders and community activists to consider other options.
The single wave of closures—which will occur at the end of the current academic year—is believed to be one of the largest to have occurred in the nation.
City school officials said the district is facing the possibility of a $1.35 billion deficit over the next five years, which is forcing them to shut down under-enrolled schools across Philadelphia. The district says it has been paying for roughly 53,000 empty seats.
The Philadelphia School Reform Commission voted to spare four schools that were on the closure list recommended by Superintendent William R. Hite, Jr.
The vote came after a raucous day of demonstrations that included the arrest of 19 opponents of the closure plan. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten was among those arrested.
A recent study of 12 cities—including Philadelphia—found that after schools are shut down, districts struggle to repurpose empty buildings.
A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.