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Philadelphia Schools face downsizing, closures

Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission (SRC), voted on a controversial budget last May that eliminated counselors, sports, secretaries, librarians, music and art teachers and support safety staff at public schools in the area. Their plan: Save the beleagured School District of Philadelphia by tearing it down. The district faced a budget hole roughly the size of $300 million dollars for the 2012–2013 school year, which would balloon to $1.1 billion by 2017 if left unchecked. Just two months earlier, in April, the SRC had voted to close twenty-four of the city’s public schools, a decision that dislocated over 14,000 students this fall. The closures affected economically vulnerable and minority students almost exclusively: 81 percent of students in now-closed schools are black, 93 percent come from low-income households. It is overwhelmingly young people of color, and those who work in their schools, who will bear the brunt of these closings and witness the worst effects of the budget cuts.

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