Construction underway at Ben Franklin High to accommodate move-in of SLA students

Mike DeNardo
December 08, 2018 - 4:00 am
Benjamin Franklin High School

Mike DeNardo/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Work is on track to put two very different Philadelphia schools into the same building next fall. 

The district is moving Science Leadership Academy — one of its most successful magnets — from 22nd and Arch streets to Benjamin Franklin High School, one of its lowest-performing neighborhood schools. 

A $37 million renovation of the six-story Ben Franklin building at 550 North Broad is already underway.

"Right now, the construction is going to be phased because students are still in the building while this work is occurring," said Danielle Floyd, chief operating officer for the School District of Philadelphia. "We have safely put them in a different part of the building compared to the areas that we're working in. But the entire building will be touched and renovated."

The schools will have separate entrances — SLA on Green Street and Franklin on Broad — as well as separate classrooms, but Floyd said the SLA and Franklin students will share a gym and a new first-floor lunchroom.

"One of the most dramatic changes that students and staff will see is the relocation and the creation of a student dining commons," she added. "We're creating that one on the first floor of the school. It will be relocated from the sixth floor to the first floor."

The SLA move is expected next July.

Floyd noted that the district will save $2 million a year in rent from SLA's Arch Street location, and millions more because of energy-efficient lighting, windows and heating controls being installed at Ben Franklin. 

The district aims to give students at both schools a better learning environment than they currently have.