Renovating an existing high school to provide one home for two separate city schools
Challenged to achieve efficiency in their operations, the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) was looking to maximize existing assets and eliminate excess costs. With a standard high school using only half its capacity at an owned location and another magnet school leasing space, SDP chose to collocate the Benjamin Franklin High School and The Science Leadership Academy in the owned property.
Faced with some expected but difficult challenges to this solution, our team was hired to lead programming and community engagement efforts. To achieve full transparency, we engaged not only SDP employees but also community members including student representatives who would eventually use and share the building. This allowed us to strike a balance between existing concerns and a future that secured equity of access for students from both schools—one with high-achieving students and the other with a range of performance and classroom management challenges.
Carefully balancing the building infrastructure improvement costs with 21st century learning program costs, our team created two unique but equal programs including building entries, cafeterias, administration, and educational spaces. Both schools share the gymnasium and auditorium, but each school maintained its separate identity programmatically.
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