Even the Philadelphia School District’s top security official was affected by the Connecticut school shootings.
“We’re all shaken by it,” said Chief Inspector Cynthia Dorsey. “Everyone’s on edge.”
On Monday, Dorsey and other top officials sat down to evaluate the district’s safety needs.
Kristen A. Graham
Inquirer schools reporter Kristen Graham live tweeted today's 2 p.m. news conference. She and Jeff Gammage are covering a protest rally on the closings. On a mobile device? Click here to follow.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Wednesday awarded Philadelphia $2.5 million to bolster collaboration between public and charter schools and fund projects aimed at boosting teacher training and principal leadership, among other things.
Philadelphia’s three-year grant was one of seven cities nationwide to get Gates money. The public and charter school communities in all of the cities — the others are Boston, Denver, New Orleans, New York, Hartford, Conn. and Spring Branch, Texas — have signed agreements pledging cooperation and stating mutual goals.
Philadelphia’s Great Schools compact also includes the city’s Archdiocesean schools. As a group, the Great Schools participants aim to replace 50,000 seats in struggling schools and replace them with high-quality ones.
Kristen Graham and Jeff Gammage
Members of the civic group Parents United for Public Education will file a formal complaint with the city's ethics board tomorrow, said Helen Gym, one of the group's founders. The complaint contends that work the Boston Consulting Group did for the Philadelphia School District this year constitutes lobbying under the city code, and that BCG and the William Penn Foundation - which paid for the work - should have registered as lobbyists.
BCG, for several months, studied the district's operations and came up with an extensive set of recommendations for how to cut costs and restructure operations. Parents United, the Philadelphia Home and School Council and the Philadelphia branch of the NAACP say that the lobbying dealt with charter expansion and tagging dozens of district schools for closure.
The complaint comes after the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia completed a legal analysis of the issues at Parents United's request. Also signing on to the complaint are the Philadelphia Home and School Council and the Philadelphia branch of the NAACP.
The Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS), a group that opposes school district reform plans as proposed, has come out against the School Reform Commission's move to suspend the state's timeline for closing schools.
The SRC, in a meeting Thursday night, used the "special powers" given it to suspend two sections of Pennsylvania's Public School Code. One move gives the SRC the ability to impose caps on charter school enrollment; the other gives it more flexibilty in the school-closing timeline.
Officials have said they will close about 40 schools at the end of the year; the list of recommended closings has not been made public, but could be by the first week in December. Chairman Pedro Ramos said in an interview that the SRC still means to have a robust and authentic public comment period before it votes on school closings, but said the state's strict guidelines needed to be relaxed, given the high number of closings and the district's timetable.
Follow along as Kristen Graham livetweets the School Reform Commission's November voting meeting, scheduled to begin at 5:30 on Nov. 15. On a mobile phone? Click here to follow along.
There's a new top cop in the Philadelphia School District.
Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Cynthia Dorsey took over as the district's Chief Safety Officer effective Monday. She replaces Chief Inspector Myron Patterson, another city police officer.
The shakeup is part of a series of moves made last week by Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey. Patterson now heads one of the city's two Regional Operations Command centers.
The mood was tense, but the music was beautiful.
Officials at GAMP — Girard Academic Music Program, the city’s elite, public magnet for gifted musicians — have been notified they will lose the yellow school buses that transport its middle school students from points around Philadelphia to the school at 22nd and Ritner.
So on Thursday night, dozens gathered in the GAMP auditorium for a concert and rally to voice their displeasure to the Philadelphia School District.
The Philadelphia School Reform Commission today authorized the sale of $300 million in bonds - money it needs just to pay teachers, heat buildings and buy books for the remainder of the school year.
Selling the 20-year notes will cost the district about $22 million in borrowing costs annually, beginning in fiscal 2014.
In financial terms, the sale was successful - well received in the market, with over 50 investors placing initial orders, district staff said. Though the district is in financial shambles, its recently-adopted five year plan and greater public confidence in a new school governing body administration bolstered the bond sale.
Philadelphia School District officials have their eye on millions in federal funds they hope to earn through grants to be awarded in December.
The Race to the Top program, administered by the U.S. Department of Education, has previously awarded funds to 21 states and the District of Columbia, for programs aimed at boosting student achievement. Now, the feds are offering money to individual school districts that plan to "personalize learning, close achievement gaps and use 21st century tools to prepare students for college and careers."
Philadelphia, in its application, said it would use the money to make learning more personal - through "personalized engagement and the use of mobile devices, such as iPads and response clickers."