The high school will have to close for at least a year if the district decides to rebuild it on its current site at 33rd and Tasker.
School district administrators have decided to begin the process of closing Audenried High before the School Reform Commission approves a final plan for a replacement facility.
Starting in September, the school will not accept a freshman class, said School District of Philadelphia spokesperson Amy Guerin. The district will work with families to place ninth-graders at other schools, she said.
The decision comes in anticipation of the district completing a deal to build a replacement high school, possibly at 33rd and Tasker streets, where Audenried currently sits.
"What we are talking about there is replacing the school completely," Guerin said, "giving the school a new building, a new feel, a new everything."
If the district decides to rebuild on site, Audenried could be closed for at least a year while the building is demolished and reconstructed.
Kenny Gamble's Universal Companies has been linked to the future of Audenried for the past year. The nonprofit organization that promotes neighborhood improvement and investment already manages three city schools and runs a charter school of its own.
The district is negotiating with Universal to determine what role the organization will play in the new high school, Guerin said. School administrators have pledged to keep parents and the community informed of any progress, but currently there is nothing to report, she said.
"A lot of people are under the misconception that there is some final plan and we are somehow moving forward on it," Guerin said. "But there isn't."
When a proposal is finalized, it must be presented to the School Reform Commission and approved by its members.
Audenried has been one of the worst performing schools in the city for years -- on any given day, nearly half of the students do not attend class. It is also one of the district's most violent institutions.
In September, a girl from neighboring James Alcorn Middle School attacked two female Audenried students with a knife shortly after dismissal. The victims, ages 14 and 15, were stabbed multiple times on the 2700 block of Tasker Street.
Then in February, six students were injured within the high school when a knife fight broke out in the hallway as students changed classes. One teenage girl received 58 stitches to close wounds to her face and chest. The school district responded to the melee by replacing principal Millage Holloway with LaFra Young.
Replacement for St. Charles?
The St. Charles Borromeo school building might not remain vacant for long.
In January, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced the school at 2019 Montrose St. would close at the end of the year because of low enrollment and reduced funding.
Now the church is campaigning for a new tenant.
Last Wednesday, the Rev. George A. Majoros invited the Montessori Initiative for Education to speak to parents about the possibility of opening a Montessori charter school in St. Charles' soon-to-be-empty schoolhouse. The group's goal is to open an elementary school by the start of the 2004-05 school year.
Two of MIE's organizers, Kathleen Dzura and Colleen L. Mele, said about 40 people attended the meeting. Roughly one-third were parents with children enrolled at St. Charles. Many of the rest were graduates of the former Montessori school that rented space from the church until the 1970s at 1941 Christian St. -- now the Father George Vermeiren Center for seniors.
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