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Over the last several years, the University has worked hard to improve its sometimes tumultuous relationship with the West Philadelphia community. But for all its contributions, Penn has never truly had an opportunity to make a change that could have an immediate impact upon those who live, work and depend on University City. That opportunity may have just arrived. This week brought news that the University City New School may be forced to close because of a budget shortfall brought on by building problems connected to its forced relocation. Through its 27-year history, the New School has gained prominance as a diverse, innovative community school -- and as a place where many Penn staff members send their children. To its credit, Penn has already been gracious in helping the school offset the relocation costs -- by donating $200,000 to help in the moving process. Those funds, of course, would never have been necessary if the new Penn-assisted school wasn't going to displace the New School from its current location this fall. Regardless, there still remains a gap of $75,000. And without that money, the New School may be forced to shut down -- denying many neighborhood children the quality education from which they are already benefitting. Penn should take this opportunity to renew its pledge to the school -- either by providing additional funds or offering a loan. Such an action would show the University's committment to its employees' families, and would show a greater commitment to the welfare of this community. Most importantly, it would ensure that those children won't be shut out when the school bell rings for the first time this September.

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