Yesterday was Open House at the Philadelphia School District’s last remaining prized property, William Penn High School, which has a market value of $32 million.
One would think that a school district too broke to pay attention would ask for the market price and settle for what it can get. Think again. In this notoriously “corrupt and contented” city, the asking price for William Penn is a mere $15 million.
The bidding process for William Penn makes a mockery of the School District’s Adaptive Sale and Reuse policy. The promise that school properties will be disposed of in a “transparent and responsible manner” rings hollow.
Putting aside the lack of transparency in closing William Penn, the asking price of $15 million doesn’t pass the smell test.
Temple University has expressed an interest in William Penn. The sale is being expedited by the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation whose board of directors includes Temple’s Senior Vice President for Government, Community and Public Affairs.
Are Philly taxpayers expected to believe it’s a coincidence the asking price is less than half the market value? To borrow a phrase from Elie Wiesel, there are no coincidences.
Philadelphia Schools Superintendent William Hite says he needs $216 million more to maintain the shameful status quo. Why then is the School District throwing away $17 million? The asking price begs the question: Who benefits?
It’s wrong to deny taxpayers an opportunity to ask why the School District is selling William Penn for pennies on the dollar. So the Pennsylvania State Chapter National Action Network will file a complaint with the Office of the Inspector General. Perhaps then the community will get some answers.