Students, teachers and community members took their turns Tuesday night at a Philadelphia School Reform Commission public hearing to oppose a plan to merge two unique high school programs in Kensington.

District officials said the two schools - Kensington Urban Education Academy High and Kensington International Business, Finance and Entrepreneurship High - are under-enrolled and underperforming. Officials said a single school with 700 students would be able to offer students more courses and extracurricular options and improved technology. Both schools are housed in the former Kensington High School building.

Under a plan proposed a decade ago by the advocacy group Youth United for Change, Kensington High was divided into three smaller programs with different academic focuses: Kensington CAPA, Kensington International Business, and Kensington Health Sciences. When Kensington CAPA moved to its own campus in 2009, Kensington Urban Education opened in its place.

Speakers Tuesday night also criticized the SRC for suspending part of the state school code to fast-track the closing. "This is a blatant attempt to prevent public commentary . . . regarding these ill-advised school closings," said Larry Arata, a teacher at the business academy.

SRC chairwoman Marjorie Neff said the five-member body will vote in June on the proposed closing and merger. - Martha Woodall