School District of Philly and Drexel break major ground | The Triangle

School District of Philly and Drexel break major ground

The lot that sits behind 35th and Market streets will soon become the site for Samuel Powel Elementary School and the Science Leadership Academy Middle School. (Photograph courtesy of Austinmurphy at Wikimedia Commons.)

On Dec. 9, Drexel celebrated with The School District of Philadelphia on the groundbreaking of a new West Philadelphia-based facility which will house two of the district’s K-8 public schools.

Through a partnership with Drexel, The School District of Philadelphia will lease the two-story building for $12 per year under a 35-year agreement, according to DrexelNOW. The 87,000-square-foot space is scheduled to be completed next year. Once the new building opens, The School District of Philadelphia will pay operational costs to keep it running.

Funding for the $40 million project, which has been in the works since 2012, comes from both private and public funding secured by Drexel and from contributions from PECO, the Lenfest Foundation and Ventas, a leading real estate investment trust, according to a December news posting by DrexelNOW.

The two schools that will be housed in the new West Philadelphia facility are the Samuel Powel Elementary School, currently located in West Philadelphia on 36th Street and Powelton Avenue, and the Science Leadership Academy Middle School (known as “SLAMS”), currently located at 3600 Market Street.

Current plans show that the SLA Middle School will occupy the second floor of the new space, while the Powel Elementary School will occupy the first. Both schools plan to be fully relocated by the end of next year.

All parties involved in the project feel that the new, revolutionary space will be much more conducive to learning and will encourage students to research and share their diverse ideas and experiences.

“We want to ensure that students throughout [Philadelphia] have access to the educational experiences that are going to help them be successful after they graduate,” William Hite Jr., superintendent of The School District of Philadelphia, said. “Here in West Philadelphia, we are seeing a real need in the community for a strengthened K-8 continuum. We are excited that students at Powel and SLAMS will have the opportunity to learn in such a modernized facility and are grateful for the continued support of Drexel.”

President John Fry commended the project and credited its success largely to the long-standing partnership between Drexel and The School District of Philadelphia.

“With this transformational development, we are creating a foundation of learning for generations to come, and expanding the vision of innovation and inclusive opportunity for all those in our community,” Fry said. “And in working with The School District to make this a reality […] we see yet another example of the power of partnerships.”

The successful partnership between Drexel and The School District of Philadelphia surpasses the actual construction project, however.

“Through Drexel’s School of Education, a dedicated coordinator will make continuing connections to the University,” DrexelNOW published on Dec. 9. “Drexel will offer expertise in technology and instruction, media arts and design, performing arts, information sciences and health. The School of Education will also offer professional development for teachers and enrichment programming for the students in high need areas as identified by the [school’s] principals.”

Drexel came to an agreement in May with Wexford Science and Technology of Baltimore, Maryland, to construct the new building in West Philadelphia. The project will be overseen by BSI Construction, LLC of Bensalem, using Rogers Partners Architects and Urban Designers as designers and Andropogon Associates, Ltd. as landscape architects.