The School Reform Commission, the board that oversees the Philadelphia School District, approved the expansions of three schools with a STEM focus last Friday: the formerly Navy Yard-based project-learning Sustainability Workshop School, Center City’s Science Leadership Academy and Germantown’s Hill-Freedman Middle School, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
But one board member, Joseph Dworetzky, voted against the expansions, pointing out that they will cost the cash-strapped School District $28.8 million over five years. The first year of the expansions will be funded largely in part by a $6 million grant from the Philadelphia Schools Partnership, a local nonprofit.
In response to Dworetzky’s critique, superintendent William Hite said the cost was justified.
“We think the opportunity to offer hundreds more students access to high-quality, innovative educational experiences . . . justifies this cost,” Hite said, according to the Inquirer.
The Workshop School’s expansion, in particular, has also been the subject of criticism from community leaders in West Philadelphia, where it will expand. Community members called the Workshop School expansion an “undercover deal” that neither solicited input from the neighborhood nor received approval from the School Reform Commission before Hite gave the expansion the green light.
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