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Spring 2004 Vol. 11 No. 3 Focus on Small Schools

Small schools backers push to be heard on capital plan

Photo: Harvey Finkle

Principal Edward Monastra greets a student outside Olney High School, one of the city’s large high schools that are slated for replacement or renovation. A proposal would break up Olney into several new, small schools.

By by Beandrea Davis

Two student groups and their allies are among those who see the District's $1.5 billion Capital Improvement Program as a landmark opportunity to transform Philadelphia's high schools.

The capital plan calls for building 20 new schools and renovating dozens more over the next five years, addressing a real need in a District where 71 percent of school buildings are more than 50 years old.

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District pursues creation of new, smaller high schools

By by Paul Socolar

Responding to growing evidence that large, urban high schools often are not as good learning environments as smaller schools, the School District is expanding its roster of high schools and thereby aiming to reduce student enrollment at large high schools.

Creg Williams, the District's deputy chief academic officer in charge of high schools, said the District is implementing a "small schools" strategy not only to decrease the numbers of students in large high schools but also to provide "a whole lot more programmatic options for young people."

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Photo Essay: Student group impressed by visit to small schools in New York

By by Beandra Davis

Looking for ideas on how to turn their large, low-performing high schools into small schools, Kensington and Olney High School students from the education organizing group Youth United for Change (YUC) set out to find successful examples of small schools around the country.

Last March, their search led them to the Julia Richman Education Complex, a building in New York City that is home to six small, autonomous schools ranging in size from 130 to 400 students.

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