A neighborhood remains at a standstill as the Philadelphia School District keeps mum on the status of the former George W. Childs Community School. The building, located at 17th and Tasker streets in Point Breeze, has been a fundamental hub for neighborhood activity since its start more than 100 years ago.
When the school moved to its current location at 17th and Wharton streets in 2010, the community felt the effects immediately.
“It was really devastating with the school moving, because two things happened: we lost one of the oldest elementary schools that was in the area, and has done such a great job as being a stakeholder here, and in the midst of that, moving it to Barratt Junior High, or Barratt Middle School – and dispelling that name – it was like losing two institutions at one time,” said Reverend Anthony Stevenson.
Stevenson, who is in charge of the People Unified Resource Center at 17th and Tasker streets, said the building has held a reigning influence on the area. With his organization being located right across the street, Stevenson said the school district property has always opened its doors to the rest of the community, often encouraging relationships between its teachers and community leaders, which in turn inspired its students to become upstanding members of the community.
“Time and time again, we worked together with Childs to do community affairs,” Stevenson said. “It was a good meeting place, where the community met because Childs School always allowed you to utilize their facilities. It turned out some people in every area academically, athletically, socially, and some of them are still in the neighborhood today.”
Stevenson suggested he would like to see the building become a community center for the neighborhood, other community members have echoed the same request.
Kim Smith, an active member of Neighbors Invested in Childs Elementary as well as an alumna of Childs Community School, also loves the idea of a community center.
“Currently we have nothing for the children to do,” Smith said. “The athletic league is no longer in our neighborhood. It used to be in our building. That’s gone. There are no recreation centers in this immediate area for the children to have something to do. The children and the young adults need some recreation. There’s a lot of programs for school-aged children but for our young adults, there isn’t.”
Kenyatta Johnson, the 2nd District Councilman who is also an alumnus of Childs Community School, has been in conversation with the school district over the future of the building.
“There are several proposals on the table to develop some kind of housing,” the councilman said. “Nothing is finalized yet. We want to make sure that something positive goes in its place.”
Please see our related story about the students adapting to the new Childs Elementary School here.