The Philadelphia School District and its largest union are back at the negotiating table, the gulf between the two sides has widened, officials said.
Bill Green, who was recently ousted as School Reform Commission chairman in favor of Marjorie Neff, said he believes the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers has been emboldened by their strong ties to Gov. Wolf, and by his removal.
"Our negotiations with the PFT have gone backwards, not forward," Green said on Monday. "I'm afraid that they are getting encouragement for that intransigence by this action."
Gov. Wolf, in a stunning move, is stripping Bill Green of his chairmanship of the School Reform Commission.
Marjorie Neff will be the new chairwoman of the five-member governing body of the Philadelphia School District. Wolf will announce the move on Monday.
Green will fight the move in court.
The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and Philadelphia School District were sued in Common Pleas Court on Wednesday over a long-held practice that allows union employees to remain on the school system's payroll.
The conservative Fairness Center, representing Americans for Fair Treatment, holds that taking teachers and other school workers out of city classrooms to work for the PFT is illegal, despite the fact that the union pays the workers' salaries and benefits.
Technically, up to 63 PFT workers - including union president Jerry Jordan - are permitted to remain on the district's books, accruing seniority and pension time and receiving district health insurance. The union reimburses the district for the full cost of carrying the roughly 20 workers who are actually on the district's books, a spokesman said.
The School Reform Commission is now deciding the fate of 39 charter school applications, the first such new proposals in seven years.
I'm livetweeting until the finish.
Today, the SRC decides the fate of 39 possible new charter schools.
The SRC is surely feeling intense pressure - powerful people on all sides are watching their moves today. On one hand, Gov. Wolf has said that he wants zero new charters approved. And on the other, Republicans in the House and Senate have urged the passage of many charters - between 16 and 27, House Speaker Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny) said. And while governors propose budgets, legislators get them passed.
State Sen. Vincent Hughes (D., Phila.) is the latest to weigh in. Hughes, in a letter sent to SRC Chairman Bill Green this morning, said that "adapting a full expansion of charters will not just cause the financial collapse of the School District, but it will cause the academic collapse of every student in both traditional and charter schools in Philadelphia."
Kristen Graham and Martha Woodall
There's major news afoot in the Philadelphia school landscape: Philadelphia School Partnership is offering up to $35 million over three years to clear the way for the School Reform Commission to approve new charter schools.
The money would pay for new charters for 14,000 Philadelphia students. Thirty-nine charter applications await the SRC, which could decide on them next week.
Mark Gleason, executive director of PSP, said the group is trying to "take the cost issue off the table for the district."
With an eye to the snowy forecast, Philadelphia School District officials have made the call to close schools early on Monday.
All schools will dismiss at noon. After-school activities are cancelled.
Auditions for the High School for Creative and Performing Arts scheduled for Monday are cancelled, and have been rescheduled for the next day school is in session.
Commonwealth Court judges have handed a win to the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, ruling that the School Reform Commission cannot throw out the teachers' union's contract and impose new terms.
The decision was confirmed by Jerry Jordan, PFT president, on Thursday morning.