City needs better schools to grow

What’s the best way to maintain the population growth Center City has seen over the last decade? Improve neighborhood public schools, a new report says.

The city’s population increased by 16.3 percent in the core of downtown between 2000 and 2010, and about 10 percent in an expanded area from Girard to Tasker. A report from Center City District indicates that growth could mean a 66 percent increase in school-age children in the core and 32 percent in the extended area if those families choose to stay in the city.

“Providing quality schools is a way of stabilizing the work force,” said Paul Levy, president and CEO of CCD, a business improvement district. “We finally turned around the population loss. We’re in the knowledge economy. This is, I think, a huge opportunity to build and expand on that.”

Levy has suggested a partnership with the Philadelphia School District that he says would benefit both disadvantaged families who are dissatisfied with neighborhood schools and families considering leaving the city for better education options. He said district officials have not yet responded. A message left for district officials went unreturned yesterday.

In addition to schools, the report says safe and clean streets, competitive taxes and high-quality transit are also factors in retaining Center City population growth.

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