Monday, January 16, 2017

Blight: That's Not Right

More than three years ago, officials at the School Reform Commission approved a measure to close over 25 underperforming public schools. The reasoning behind the closures is understood: Funding cuts by the state and federal government, increased charter school seats, declining enrollment in traditional public schools, "No Child Left Behind," and financial incentives necessitated the changes.

We're concerned, though, about the schools that have been left vacant in already-declining neighborhoods across North Philadelphia. With increased blight comes increased crime.

Closing schools was necessary, but the people who live in these underserved communities have lost more than an operating school; property values have declined, less dollars are circulating, and there is more blight. Many of the closed schools are frequent illegal dumping sites. Tires, beds and other furniture, construction debris et cetera line sidewalks around the schools and fill their parking lots.

While the crime map shown above does not cover the entire period, the closing of Thomas FitzSimons exacerbated problems from which the neighborhood was struggling to overcome. Philly311, which is a great resource for reporting quality of life issues, does not assist with school related problems. It will take reports for illegal dumping on sidewalks and the public right of way,  however.

So, who will hold the School District of Philadelphia responsible? You can, by telephoning the district and asking to have someone come out to address your concerns.

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