Hite, Green mount challenge to teachers' union re: work rules

Philadelphia School District Superintendent William Hite threw down a challenge to the teachers’ union today, saying he’s run out of patience with the work rules governing how staff is assigned to Philadelphia public schools.

Hite is hoping to speed up the pace of contract negotiations with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers now that former at-large councilman Bill Green is chair of the School Reform Commission. Family court Judge Kevin Dougherty administered the oath of office to both Green and new SRC Commissioner Farah Jimenez this afternoon.

Philadelphia School Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said more funding would help.

“Because we’re approaching the second school year, we don’t have time to continue with the status quo and the status quo for how we assign staff to schools,” said Hite.

“We’re at a timeline where we’re beginning to make those decisions for next year. The action plan we’ve been talking about over the last several days – it’s much harder to implement, in fact, if we’re operating with the current rules and structures. Part of that is gaining more flexibility and that’s what we’ve proposed to the PFT.”

Hite and Green are calling for a shift in resources from non-performing schools to those that are, or close schools with a pattern of academic failure, whether public or charter.

“The first order of business is to get the environment and work rules we need in order to have the application of resources in a school to make a difference,” said Green.

“The priority is to execute action plan 2.0 using data and evidence instead of anecdotal stories and other things, and that will be our biggest challenge – to prioritize our resources to make that plan come to fruition.

“We don’t fix the School District of Philadelphia. We fix one school at a time. I know that Dr. Hite is out of patience and will be guided by his timetable.”

Hite said people can expect a financial update at Thursday’s SRC meeting.

City Council President Darrell Clarke, who holds the power to call a special election to fill Green’s at-large seat, declined to say whether or not he would do so.

Speculations are swirling that the Democratic ward leaders may nominate State Rep. Ed Neilson to fill Green’s shoes.