Penn Treaty Middle School, 600 E. Thompson St., will add grades 9 through 12 in the fall, confirmed principal Sam Howell at the July 18 meeting of the Fishtown Neighbors Association. Penn Treaty up until this point served students in grades 5 through 8.
Neighbors at the FNA meeting were concerned about the mixing of middle and high school students, the source schools from which the additional students will come, school dismissal times, security and parking.
Penn Treaty will take in all the rising 7th grade students from the shuttered Sheridan West School, which was located at 3701 Frankford Ave., Howell said in a phone interview with Star last week. Students from the closed schools Charles Carroll High School, 2845 Edgemont St., and Douglas High School, 2700 E. Huntingdon St., have the option of attending Penn Treaty as well.
The Philadelphia School District estimates, Howell said, that the school will now hold 400 middle school students and 400 high school students once the new students begin in the fall. Last school year, he said, the school held approximately 300 students.
“We won’t hit that [a total of 800 students],” he said, adding that he thought the school would only end up holding a total of 700 students.
“What needs to be stressed is that we are going to take in a lot of kids this year, but that won’t continue to be the case,” he said.
As far as the middle and high school students sharing a building, Howell said shared spaces like the cafeteria and music and arts rooms would hold middle and high school students at different times. Already, he said, the sixth graders don’t share space at the same time with the eighth graders.
The school will also take in about 17 new teachers, he said. Parking, he added, is totally out of his control.
Penn Treaty’s school day, he said, will go from 7:40 a.m. to 2:44 p.m., and for middle school students, the first day of school is Sept. 9. High school students begin on Sept. 10.
The nearby St. Laurentius School, 1612 E. Berks St., operates on a similar bell schedule, which had some neighbors at the meeting asking questions about the safety of so many students spilling into the neighborhood at once at the end of the school day.
Howell said that he requested that 26th Police District officers be posted around the neighborhood at dismissal time to that end, only to ensure students don’t congregate in public areas and cause trouble. The students from outside Fishtown who can’t walk to school, he said, will have transportation passes. The school won’t use yellow busses.
“I respect the Fishtown neighbors,” Howell said. “I have a lot of respect for the people who take care of the neighborhood, and I want to make sure they know they are supported.” ••