Sunday, May 24, 2015

POSTED: Thursday, May 21, 2015, 3:28 PM
“Without additional funding, the schools will have another bleak year,” Finance Director Rob Dubow said at a Council hearing. (DAVID SWANSON/Staff Photographer)

A top Nutter administration official Thursday made a pitch to City Council: the mayor’s proposed property-tax hike is the clearest way to get city schools the $105 million they desperately need.

“Without additional funding, the schools will have another bleak year,” Finance Director Rob Dubow said at a Council hearing.

Mayor Nutter wants a 9.3 percent jump in the city’s property-tax rate to generate $105 million for the beleaguered Philadelphia School District, but skeptical Council members have indicated that it’s going to be a very hard sell.

POSTED: Monday, May 18, 2015, 2:22 PM
File: Unite Here Local 634 members demonstrate in front of City Hall in 2013. (Akira Suwa / Staff Photographer)

Another union has a deal with the Philadelphia School District.

The members of Unite Here Local 634, which represents school cafeteria workers and noontime aides, has ratified a four-year contract that contains benefits savings and work-rule changes including a weakening of seniority rights.

The workers - the district's lowest-paid - will actually get pay bumps made possible, officials said, by allowing the district to temporarily stop payments to the union's health and welfare fund. Most workers in the union are part-time, earning $10.88 hourly, or about $8,000 annually.

POSTED: Friday, May 15, 2015, 12:34 PM
Helen Gym. ( (ED HILLE / Staff Photographer)

Helen Gym's City Council campaign got early momentum from an endorsement from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. On Friday, it was bolstered by the effusive support of Randi Weingarten, the president of the national teachers' union.

"If we had more people like Helen in public office, we'd be solving more problems across the United States of America," Weingarten said, standing outside the Philadelphia School District headquarters. "I'm impressed by her passion, by her smarts, by her ability to problem solve."

Weingarten and District Attorney Seth Williams spoke at a late-morning rally for Gym, the longtime public-education activist. Mayoral candidate Jim Kenney stood behind Gym at the event, but did not speak.

POSTED: Wednesday, May 13, 2015, 2:02 PM
In 2012, school nurses protested the layoff of about 30 Philadelphia nurses. Now, the school district is exploring outsourcing health services. (Michael Bryant/staff)

The Philadelphia School District is exploring outsourcing its health services, officials said Wednesday - a move that might mean privatizing jobs now held by unionized school nurses.

Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said the district, rocked by years of brutal budgets, had to find a way to expand medical services and was seeking to test the waters to see if it might do so through bringing in private providers.

“With the significant cuts that we’ve made, it’s impacted our ability to deliver health services to all children that need those services,” Hite said.

POSTED: Tuesday, May 12, 2015, 5:56 PM
File: School District CFO Matthew Stanski tendered his resignation effective in June. ( MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer )

Matthew Stanski, the Philadelphia School District's well-regarded chief financial officer, is leaving the school system, a spokesman confirmed.

Stanski tendered his resignation effective in June, said Fernando Gallard, the spokesman. He is leaving to become supervisor of management, budget and planning for the Montgomery County, Md. school system.

Stanski came to the city from Prince George's County, Md., where he had been CFO there under Superintendent William R. Hite Jr, now Philadelphia's schools chief.

POSTED: Tuesday, April 21, 2015, 1:08 PM

A seven-judge panel has dismissed a lawsuit filed by school districts, parents, and organizations contending that Pennsylvania’s system of education funding is broken.

Commonwealth Court President Judge Dan Pelligrini found that school funding is a legislative issue and not a legal matter.

Parents, including two from the Philadelphia School District, and districts including the William Penn system in Delaware County, filed the suit last fall, saying that state officials had “adopted an irrational school funding system that does not deliver the essential resources students need and discriminates against children based on where they live and the wealth of their communities.”

POSTED: Friday, April 10, 2015, 2:59 PM
The move, Philadelphia School District officials said, will save costs and, most importantly, improve a dismal “fill rate." (Bob Laramie / Staff Photographer)

The Philadelphia School District is outsourcing management of its substitute-teaching services, effectively privatizing hundreds of jobs now held by unionized workers.

The move, school officials said, will save costs and, most importantly, improve a dismal “fill rate."

Last year, just 64 percent of sub jobs were filled every day, impacting the education of thousands of children, said Naomi Wyatt, the district’s human-resources chief.

POSTED: Friday, March 27, 2015, 3:57 PM
Stacy Fields, 6, left, makes snow angels with her family on Alder Street in North Philadelphia on March 5, 2015, which turned out to be a snow day for the Philadelphia School District. ( DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer )

Philadelphia public school students will be sitting in classes for an extra day in June, officials said Friday.

The final day of school is now June 18 for students and June 19 for staff, Philadelphia School District spokesman Fernando Gallard said. That's one day later than initially scheduled.

Snow closed schools three times this winter. Officials made the call to keep spring break in tact and add time in June, Gallard said.

About this blog

Inquirer reporter Kristen Graham writes the Philly School Files blog, where she covers education in Philadelphia, both in and out of the classroom.

During the school year, you’ll frequently find her hosting live chats about the district on Philly.com.

Please do pass along the scoop about what’s going on at your Philadelphia public school; Kristen welcomes tips, story ideas and witty banter.


Kristen Graham Inquirer Staff Writer
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