Green, Neff ready to move past SRC chair controversy

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Bill Green and Marjorie Neff.

The School Reform Commission is ready to move past Chairgate.

That was the message yesterday from ousted chairman Bill Green and Commissioner Marjorie Neff, who was named to replace Green as chair of the school district’s governing body last week by Gov. Wolf. The two met with reporters to make it clear they are on the same page and don’t intend for it to be a distraction.

“I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but the members of this SRC are focused on quality education for all kids,” said Neff, a former principal and career educator who was appointed to the five-member board last year by Mayor Nutter.

Green, who initially planned to challenge the move in court, announced Tuesday that he would not pursue legal action. Both he and Neff said all the focus should be on pushing for the funding the district needs to implement Superintendent William Hite’s Action Plan 3.0.

A combined $264 million in new money proposed by Wolf and Nutter are a good start, they said.

“We’re literally taking the A team off the bench and putting them on the field with this money,” Green said. “And people are going to see a tremendous difference in schools, I believe, in just a period of a few short years.

“It’s a very exciting opportunity for the district, for Bill Hite and his team, and frankly for us at the SRC. The prospect of that money is tremendous,” he continued. “Now we have to fight together to go get it.”

Nutter’s proposed property-tax increase, according to Neff, would amount to about an extra 30 cents a day for the average Philadelphia homeowner.

“I can’t imagine that there’s anyone in Philadelphia that wouldn’t be willing to put aside 30 cents a day for better education for all of the kids here,” she said.

Both commissioners -- who serve along with Farah Jimenez, Feather Houstoun and Sylvia Simms -- reiterated they will continue pushing for labor savings and work rules changes with the teachers’ union to give Hite the flexibility he needs. When asked if she’s concerned about possibly being removed if she upsets Wolf, she replied “No, but I can’t speak for the governor.”

“I didn’t feel that way either,” Green laughed.