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Philadelphia to Shutter 23 Public Schools

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Philadelphia education officials voted last week to shutter 23 schools across the city in what they say is a necessary cost-saving measure, despite months of emotional protests and pleas from civil rights leaders and community activists to consider other options.

City school officials say the district is facing the possibility of a $1.35 billion deficit over the next five years, which is forcing them to shut down underenrolled schools. The 138,000-student 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 closures—set for the end of the current academic year—are believed to be one of the largest single waves of school shutdowns to have occurred in the nation.

The vote came after a raucous day of demonstrations that included the arrest of 19 opponents of the closure plan, including President Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers.

Vol. 32, Issue 24, Page 4

Published in Print: March 13, 2013, as Philadelphia to Shutter 23 Public Schools
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