After construction delays, it's first day of classes for 2 Philly high schools now sharing building

Mike DeNardo
September 06, 2019 - 4:00 am
Construction at the newly-combined Science Leadership Academy and Ben Franklin High School.

Mike DeNardo/KYW Newsradio


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The school district started classes on Tuesday, but construction delays have pushed the start of school at the newly-combined Science Leadership Academy and Ben Franklin High School to Friday. 

It's still very much a construction site at the Ben Franklin High School building where Science Leadership Academy is now sharing the space at Broad and Spring Garden streets.  

SLA teacher Dan Symonds says together, the staff and students will thrive.

"We're going to defy the unschool-like conditions of this construction zone and turn it into a school," Symonds said.

The district moved SLA, one of its top magnet schools, from leased space at 22nd and Arch streets to unused space at Franklin, a neighborhood high school. They'll have separate entrances and separate classrooms.  

Related: Science Leadership Academy gets ready to move into Ben Franklin High School

Franklin culinary arts teacher Keith Pretlow says teachers are ready to establish a shared culture.

"Kids are going to pick up whatever the adults put down. So I'll say both at Ben Franklin and at SLA, the staff, we're bleeding pride and we're bleeding unity. And our students are excited and ready to work together," Pretlow said.

"We're going to make sure that they are safe, that they are learning, that they are feeling welcomed and loved," said SLA physical education teacher Pia Martin. "That this whole campus community understands that this is going to be a success, in spite of the obstacles that we are going to be facing."

District chief of schools Shawn Bird said last month that the building wouldn't be construction-free for a while.

"There will be some work on the first floor of the common area that will be ongoing through October, so we'll have a construction barrier for safety," Bird said.