School Reform Commission Chairman Pedro Ramos was blunt in a Tuesday news conference (which I live Tweeted here) announcing that the Philadelphia School District's current structure will essentially be blown up.
"What we know through a lot of history and evidence and practice is that the current system doesn't work," Ramos said.
The future, Ramos and Chief Recovery Officer Thomas Knudsen said, will include decentralization, performance-based "achievement networks" of schools that operate on contracts, and, beginning in 2013, 40 fewer school buildings for the district to run. After closing those schools, the district plans on shutting six more schools per year through 2017. (It does not plan on teacher layoffs, Knudsen said, but it's not clear how it's possible to close 40 buildings and not lay off any teachers.)
And the budget? Ugly. There's a $218 million deficit for 2013 - and that will be higher if Mayor Nutter's Actual Value Initiative doesn't pass City Council. (And it doesn't currently have the votes to pass.)