Building Update from Dr. Bird

Posted on September 3, 2019
Categories: School Life
[The following memo is from Dr. Shawn Bird, Chief of Schools for the School District of Philadelphia.]

Dear Ben Franklin – Science Leadership Academy Families:

I am happy to report that the main elevator that was being used to transport construction materials, classroom furniture and other items was back in service as of noon Saturday. As of today, we are on track to welcome our BF-SLA students and families to our new campus for the first day of school on Thursday, September 5, 2019.  We thank the construction workers who have been onsite since Saturday, using the stairways to manually transport construction and classroom materials in order to keep the renovation process moving forward.

Students and families are encouraged to pick up TransPasses and student rosters at their school’s Main Office anytime between 8 to 10 a.m. tomorrow Wednesday, September 4. Breakfast will also be available for students from 8 to 10 a.m.

We are excited to welcome 870 students to our shared campus this year. Our new $37 million campus renovation features:

  • all new classrooms with modernized furniture and air conditioning units
  • upgrades to every educational space to promote collaboration and support each program
  • a new state-of-the-art, full service kitchen and cafeteria
  • all new energy-efficient windows
  • a new campus-wide security system with cameras throughout the building
  • and much more!

Here are a few updates to prepare you for the first day of school:

Student Entry: To ensure swift, safe and orderly entry to the school each day, SLA students will enter on Green Street while BF students will enter on Broad Street.

Remaining Construction and Safety Precautions: While most of the construction will be complete by the first day of school, there are still a few areas that will be safely partitioned off and inaccessible to students and staff while final construction is completed. Our top priority always is the safety of our children, staff, and community members who will be in the building.

The sixth floor SLA side will not be accessible to students until September 23rd, at which point classroom space will be available for use. The sixth floor BF side will be ready for use mid October. Until then, we have created a schedule to allow teachers whose rooms are affected to use classrooms that will be available during other teachers’ conference periods. Be assured that a high quality of teaching and learning will occur for all students without disruption during this transition time. Also, the SLA first floor open collaboration space will be complete mid October.

Again, we are excited to welcome students to school on Thursday, September 5th. I want to thank you for your patience as we complete this amazing school renovation. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me at 215-400-4820 or by email at