Phila. SD to get more city, state oversight

3:05 p.m.

Two main pieces of news out of today's news conference:

First, there will be two "executive advisors" to support and guide Acting Superintendent Leroy Nunery and the SRC.  They are Lori Shorr, Mayor Nutter's top education official, and Ed Williams, a former district Chief Academic Officer.  They will have offices at the district and work closely to provide "real-time, two-way communication" between the city and state and the district. They will be in place until a permanent superintendent begins his or her job.

Second, a "Financial, Operations and Systems Working Group," chaired by Penn vice president Craig Carnaroli, will assemble to study district processes and provide recommendations.  This will be a small group of executives - five to nine people, the Mayor estimates.  They'll work over the next nine months or so.  So far, Carnaroli is the only person who's been named to the group. 

Mayor Nutter and Secretary Tomalis were very clear - they have developed a strong working relationship, and expect it to continue.  Both indicated the district needs stabilizing and this is the way to do it.  Both Nutter and Tomalis said that the public's faith in the district and its leadership will be restored.  "Clearly," Nutter said, "the page has turned." The mayor also said he expects accountability - both from the SRC and the district.

1:20 p.m.

I'm hearing that Pedro Ramos will be in attendance at today's news conference. Ramos, it seems, will be the next chairman of the SRC.  I'm also hearing that an interim chair will be named until Ramos goes through the state Senate confirmation process.  The interim chair could be Wendell Pritchett, Rutgers-Camden chancellor and the newest member of the SRC.  Pritchett was recently appointed by Mayor Nutter to the commission.  The other two SRC members are Denise McGregor Armbrister, who has the most seniority on the panel but shies away from the limelight, and Joseph Dworetzky, who lives in California for now but travels (at his own expense) to Philadelphia for meetings.  Neither of those two would seem to be in line to be interim chair, but we'll see...

More soon!


Stay tuned for developments from the city, state and SRC.  City Hall just announced that at 1:30 today, Mayor Nutter, Pa. Secretary of Education Ronald Tomalis and members of the School Reform Commission will gather at Philadelphia School District headquarters to "make an announcement regarding increased cooperation and collaboration."

Earlier this year, Nutter, Tomalis and then-SRC Chair Robert Archie Jr. signed a landmark "Education Accountability Agreement" guaranteeing heightened levels of scrutiny of the district.  (Read some background on the education accountability agreement here and here.) I've been hearing whispers about some kind of formal extension of the agreement, with even more oversight by the city and state.  I'll bring you more information as I have it.

Given the goings-on in the district over the past several months - massive budget gap, backroom deals, the SRC extending former Superintendent Arlene C. Ackerman's contract then paying her nearly $1 million to go away - it's safe to say there's a public appetite for more accountability.  The SRC has largely operated independently, and perhaps this means it will begin to take more cues from Harrisburg and City Hall? 

What would restore your confidence in the SRC?  (Gubernatorial nominee Pedro Ramos talked to my colleague Melissa Dribben about this a bit in a recent Q&A - read that here.)

Follow me on Twitter @newskag - I usually break news there first.  I'll update here, too.