Parents, teachers balk at relocation options while Ben Franklin High, SLA close through December

KYW Staff
October 07, 2019 - 7:03 am
Parents and teachers respond to the School District of Philadelphia's plans to temporarily relocate Benjamin Franklin High School and Science Leadership Academy students.

Mike DeNardo/KYW Newsradio


UPDATED: 9:20 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — School District of Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite met with parents and students Monday morning and evening at district headquarters to discuss the temporary closing of Ben Franklin High and Science Leadership Academy and the immediate future of the 1,000 students who are meant to attend classes at the joint campus. 

Students are going to be out of the building they share until after the winter break, on Jan. 2, while asbestos removal and construction in their building continue.  

Hite opened the morning meeting with an apology over the construction delays.

"Here's a project that we started, and we didn't get it right," Hite said.

At the evening forum, Hite explained they are currently looking at four different locations where the students might be able to go to school. One of them is district headquarters on Broad Street, a few blocks away from the students' current building.

Students and parents meet with Philadelphia school district officials to discuss plans for students at SLA/Ben Franklin high.
Justin Udo/KYW Newsradio

The district has also suggested Strawberry Mansion and South Philly high schools as temporary homes for students, but parents voiced a resounding "no" at a town hall forum Monday morning at school district headquarters. 

"There are neighborhood cultures that you guys aren't thinking about that you need to think about," said one parent.

"Our city is in a war," said another. "So our kids can't go anywhere and everywhere. It's not even an option for some."

Hite says the district has talked to Community College of Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania, and even Hahnemann Hospital.

"It's not ideal. None of this is ideal. And we're trying to get back to some normalcy for students," he said.

Naja Johnson just wants to know when she can go back in the classroom.

"I'm just really worried for how is my education going to change, am I still going to be out of school, just sitting in bed, basically being a homeschool child," Johnson said. 

A parent-teacher task force was formed during the town hall to come up with other options. Hite said the district wanted to have students in a temporary home by this Thursday, but he admits that may not happen.

The building that houses both schools in the Spring Garden neighborhood has been closed to students and staff since last Tuesday.  


KYW Newsradio's Mark Abrams, Mike DeNardo and Justin Udo contributed to this report.