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Archive: May, 2011

POSTED: Thursday, May 26, 2011, 6:54 PM

School district officials are scheduled to meet with SEPTA folks tomorrow to discuss whether there is a way to avoid the threatened cuts in student Transpasses, the district announced today.

To help close a $629 million gap in next year's budget, officials have proposed eliminating bus services and Transpasses for district and non-public school students. The district estimates the move will save them $50 million.

More than 34,000 Philadelphia students in district-operated public schools and nearly 12,000 students in non-public schools rely on student Transpasses, the district says.

POSTED: Thursday, May 26, 2011, 12:54 PM

Pennsylvania is one of eight states invited to participate in the federal grant competition after two unsuccessful bids.

The commonwealth, along with Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey and South Carolina, were picked in the third round of Race to the Top contest after they failed to win funding their first two tries.

If chosen for grants, Pennsylvania and New Jersey would each be eligible for between $200 million and $400 million. Philadelphia, the largest district in the commonwealth, stands to receive a hug chunk of that pot of gold.

POSTED: Wednesday, May 25, 2011, 5:30 PM

Last community meeting on district's budget tonight

District officials have concluded their presentation to City Council on their 2011-12 $2.8 billion operating budget proposal, but the budget debate and inquiries are far from over. Chief Financial Officer Mike Masch will hold one last budget meeting with the public tonight at Imhotep Institute Charter School. The two-hour meeting, to begin at 7, at the school at 6201 N. 21st Street, will focus on charter schools.

Like in previous community meetings regarding the budget, Masch and district officials will outline the proposed budget and field comments and questions from the community, like for instance, how did the district come to have a $629 million deficit?

POSTED: Wednesday, May 18, 2011, 4:48 PM

At the behest of the community, the School Reform Commission has voted to table approving the district's policies to move ahead with policies that would allow the district to close, sell or demolish old or underused buildings.

The district plans to close up to 50 of their buildings over the next three years. School consolidations, grade configurations and lease terminations will help them achieve that goal.

Parent Cecelia Thompson pleaded with the Commission this afternoon to allow more time and opportunity for public input before they put their final stamp on the policy.

POSTED: Tuesday, May 17, 2011, 1:00 PM

Four white Philadelphia elementary school teachers filed federal complaints last week alleging they experienced harassment and racial discrimination by several school and district officials, including being accused by a principal of being unfit to teach black students.

Among their complaints filed in four federal lawsuits, the teachers at Mifflin Elementary School, in East Falls, said then-principal, Charles Ray III, who is black, targeted them and other white staffers because of their race, as first reported by Courthouse News, an online court news service.

As part of their professional development, Ray forced white staffers to read an article “instructing the teachers that white teachers do not have the ability to teach African American students,” the lawsuit alleges.

POSTED: Monday, May 16, 2011, 6:16 PM

Remember parents, your young charges don't have to report to school tomorrow, Tuesday, May 17. It's Election Day and only school staff is required to show up.

The only other day off this month is Memorial Day, Monday May 30, which gives students a three-day weekend.

Enjoy the day off, students.

POSTED: Monday, May 16, 2011, 5:20 PM

The Accountability Review Council, an independent entity charged with monitoring the district’s reform efforts, will present a report on the progress of Supt. Ackerman’s Imagine 2014 plan during this Wednesday’s School Reform Commission planning meeting.

The report, The Status of 2009-2010 Academic Performance in the School District of Philadelphia and Observations on the Initial Implementation Stage of Renaissance Schools, can be viewed by clicking on this link.

Using PSSA scores in reading and math and the state and federal benchmarks, ARC members sought out whether the school district made progress in meeting expections under No Child Left Behind during the 2009-10 school year and how the Renaissance schools plan impacted students.

POSTED: Wednesday, May 11, 2011, 3:59 PM

Here's a little nugget of news from the SRC: the district expects to reach up to 75 percent utilization of their buildings by next school year if they stay on the course outlined in their Facilities Master plan.

That plan - which includes grade changes (from 25 groupings to four), school consolidations, the selling of properties and lease terminations - seeks to rid the district of 50 of their buildings, bringing them to a roughly 85 percent utilization rate. They are currently at about 67 percent. While the district plans to close no schools this September, they will continue to invest in fixing up its older buildings that are not beyond repair. 

The district estimated they have roughly 70,000 empty seats in schools across the district and have imposed a moratorium on construction that would create additional seats.

About this blog
Dafney Tales has been covering the School District of Philadelphia for the Daily News since 2009. She hopes this blog will be a forum where taxpayers – parents, educators and advocates - as well as students, can engage in a constructive conversation about education in the city. Send tips to Reach Dafney at

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