In a stunning move, the Pennsylvania High School District has announced it will close the majority of its high schools, which include the Mount Vernon School in West Philadelphia, the North Side High School in Penns Grove and the Mount Carmel School in Altoona.
According to the district’s website, the closures will take effect in the fall.
“The high school closure will impact students from the age of 12 through the high school graduation,” the district stated.
The closures were prompted by a report by the state Office of the Superintendent of Education which said that the Mount Pleasant and Mount Carmels were among the state’s worst performing high schools.
The closures were initially planned to occur this fall, but after a long-time delay, the school district announced in late April that it would not be able to meet the deadline.
The announcement followed months of pressure from local parents and advocates who said the closures would hurt children and their families.
The school district said it has a “commitment to students, teachers, parents, and community members” and is looking for new ways to provide quality education.
The Mount Carmelo and Mount Pleasant schools have been operating in the same buildings since 1999.
“Our goal is to build and maintain high-performing schools that will support the community, but also to ensure that students are learning from the best teachers and have the best opportunity to succeed,” the school board said in a statement.
The Mount Carmela School in South Philadelphia closed in the spring after more than a decade of operating.
The North Side school closed in 2016, after more recently closing two schools in the North Shore.
The North Side Mount Carmelle School in Pennsylvania has been open for nearly a decade.
The schools were among about 300 high schools across the state to be closed.
The district has not publicly identified the schools or the students who will be impacted.
The announcement comes as schools across Pennsylvania are facing major challenges to meet their needs.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced last week that the state is in the midst of a $9.7 billion budget deficit, a major source of frustration for many parents who believe the state needs to cut education spending and support other areas of the economy.
Wolf said that his administration has proposed $1 billion in tax relief for students and their parents, $300 million in school improvement grants, $1 million for a new bus system, $2 million in infrastructure spending, and $2 billion in funding for state agencies.
Wolf also said that he has proposed an additional $2.6 billion for the state Department of Education, and another $2-3 billion for school construction and maintenance.
The governor’s plan is still pending approval from the state legislature.
In addition to the Mount Waverly School in Lancaster, the Mount St. Vincent School in Philadelphia is also being shut down.
The closure of Mount Wavvers, the largest high school in the city, comes after a number of high school closures in recent years.
The closure of the Mount Vinson School, in Lancaster County, comes in the wake of a state Department for Education audit that found that the school was not meeting the state standards for graduation rates.
In a statement issued Wednesday, the state said that it has requested additional audit reports from the Mountsons school district.
According the state, the audit found that “in all the years of testing conducted by the school, the average number of students who completed a four-year high school diploma had declined by 8.5%.”