I support one of the city’s best charter schools in its efforts to relocate to Chestnut Hill and I wrote a letter to our local paper to that effect (full text below with references). I was dismayed to see the headline in the same issue today, “Near Neighbors Opposed to charter school’s planned move to Chestnut Hill” as it claimed that all near neighbors present were opposed to the proposal. I was at the community meeting, as were several of my neighbors, voicing support for the proposal. At least the editorial “Charter school might be best option” also in the same issue presented a more balanced view.
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Here’s my letter:
Dear Neighbors,I live on Rex Avenue and attended the community meeting to consider the application of Green Woods Charter School to move to Greylock Manor. I urge everyone to give serious consideration to the proposal. I realize that there are issues that need to be resolved. Before we dismiss them as insurmountable, I implore you to give their application every chance to succeed.My family resides just two blocks from the Chestnut Hill Avenue entrance to Greylock Manor. I am searching for a school for my older child who is scheduled to start kindergarten this Fall. I am on the Green Woods Charter wait list. In my capacity as author and editor for PhillySchoolSearch.com, I have been documenting my school choice process, and talking to school officials and parents all across the Delaware Valley along the way.The huge volume of traffic to phillyschoolsearch.com is evidence of the struggle parents face to educate their children; I am not alone in my struggle. The Pew Charitable Trusts released a study last June (reference 1 | reference 2), “Philadelphia’s Changing Schools and what Parents Want From Them” that found that parents increasingly want more options. For some parents, the struggle will force them to leave the city or make what they feel are compromises in their children’s education.Green Woods is one of the most highly regarded elementary schools in Greater Philadelphia. They are consistently one of the top performing charter schools in the city, winning top ratings and awards. To be clear: this is not a good school that is asking to make Chestnut Hill its home, it is an exceptional school.Like many of you, I have been dismayed by the open storefronts and stagnant housing values in our neighborhood. A top-notch school can only improve property values and attract more commercial vitality to the avenue.Green Woods, in particular, and it’s conservationist ideals will benefit not only the immediate neighbors, but the environmental efforts throughout the immediate region. It is ironic that easements are at issue, because they are, in the words of the Chestnut Hill Historical Society, for “caring for native wildlife and their habitats, safeguarding water quality, preserving important historic buildings and structures, and keeping open space in an ever-crowding region.” (reference) These values precisely match Green Woods’ conservationist mission. With this common ground, surely some solution can be found that brings Green Woods Charter here and still reflects the spirit of the easements.I too, am concerned about the traffic and other issues that people are raising. But let’s let Green Woods representatives do their due diligence and try to solve these problems. In my opinion, we should not be erecting barriers to Green Woods Charter, we should be wooing them.Regards,Len Lipkin