Philadelphia to close 23 schools; opponents rally

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Philadelphia officials voted to close 23 schools after a massive rally at system headquarters at which more than a dozen people were arrested on disorderly conduct charges.

The School Reform Commission spared only four schools Thursday night in their closing plans after hearing pleas from some of the hundreds of people who packed the meeting room and an overflow space.

Officials in one of the nation's largest and most problem-plagued districts have insisted their financial situation is dire.

The commission had to borrow $300 million this year, and projections show the district will accumulate a nearly $1.4 billion deficit over five years without a radical overhaul.

The district says it should save about $24.5 million annually through the downsizing.

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