Thursday, December 1, 2011
As School District of Philadelphia principals got the bad news about further budget cuts today, I could not help think about ways the district could raise money without hurting the students they supposedly exist to serve. If everything is really on the table as far as budget cuts go, it might be time to think radically about how to raise money and cut costs. The school district has many empty parcels of real estate sitting around, but most of them are not in a condition to be sold for market value. However, there is one building and parcel that is worth at least thirteen million dollars that the head honchos could unload if they REALLY meant what they said about caring about children--that parcel is School District Headquarters: 440 North Broad Street. According to the Office of Property Assessment website, the SDP headquarters is valued at 13,000,000.00 dollars and is owned by the school district. Why does this building need to exist anyway? All the people that work there can be dispersed to buildings that the district owns and can't get rid of. The recently abandoned George W. Childs School comes to mind: after all if it was good enough for students to inhabit last year, it should be could enough for adults to work in now. In this age of electronic communication, every central office employee does not need to work in the same building, or even the same neighborhood. Different offices could work in different buildings, superintendents and their staffs could be dispersed throughout the regional offices that already exist. The SRC could take its act on the road and have the meeting in a different school auditorium each time--that would not only bring them closer to the people they supposedly serve, it would enable them to see the conditions of the schools they expect the students to learn in. What could be the possible objections to this plan? Why not get at least thirteen million for the schools? Certainly SDP officials and office staff will not mind sacrificing their nice, air-conditioned, secure building with functioning elevators for less plush digs? After all, if our purpose is to serve and educate the children of Philadelphia, how can the big-wigs object to doing everything possible to save money? If we cannot afford enough staff and supplies for our schools, how can we afford a big, half-empty building that exists largely for show? It is time for officials to put their money where their mouth is, and--if they really care about the children of this city--sell 440 North Broad Street and join the rest of us in the real world of school buildings!
Posted by Kristin Luebbert at 4:37 PM