You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

Philadelphia plan would shut 37 schools

PHILADELPHIA — Facing deep financial problems, the Philadelphia school district has proposed an unprecedented downsizing that would close 37 schools — or roughly 1 in 6 of the city’s public schools by June.

If the sweeping plan is approved, the district says it will improve academic standards by diverting funds used for maintaining crumbling buildings to hiring teachers and improving classroom equipment.

Continue reading below

But the plan has ignited angry protests from teachers, students, and parents who argue that children, particularly in their elementary years, should not be forced to attend school outside their neighborhoods; that academic improvements will be disrupted; and that students attending new schools will be victimized because of longstanding rivalries between neighborhoods.

The proposed cuts are set to be voted on in March by the School Reform Commission, a state organization that oversees the district.

The 237-school district faces a cumulative $1.1 billion budget deficit over the next five years, following the loss of $419 million in state cuts to educational financing this year.

The district’s financial problems are compounded by the ending of federal stimulus funding and rising pension costs.

Even after borrowing $300 million to pay the bills for this academic year, the district faces a deficit of $27.6 million, a figure that officials say will rise sharply in coming years.

Its problems are worsened by having to maintain buildings that are drastically underused.

Among 195,000 student ‘‘seats,’’ 53,000 are empty, according to the district’s new superintendent, William Hite, who argues that the solution is to close the schools, sell their buildings, and transfer students into those that remain open.

Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.