Thursday, May 28, 2015

Houstoun is nominated to SRC

Feather Houstoun, former head of the William Penn Foundation, is likely to be nominated to the SRC today.

Houstoun is nominated to SRC

Feather Houstoun
Feather Houstoun

Update, 12:40 p.m.

Mayor Nutter has weighed in on Feather Houstoun's nomination to the SRC.

“Feather Houstoun is one of Philadelphia’s most dedicated and accomplished public servants, and her appointment will help the SRC move forward with its difficult and critical work," the mayor said in a statement.  "While serving at the William Penn Foundation, Feather left an undeniably positive and lasting impact on the entire Philadelphia region. As a SRC member, she would be able to bring her expertise and passion to improving the lives of Philadelphia’s students."

Update, 12:10 p.m.

Gov. Corbett's office has announced Feather O. Houstoun as his nominee to the School Reform Commission.  In a release, Corbett said that “Feather Houstoun’s experience and depth of knowledge in public service will be a tremendous asset to help lead Philadelphia’s educational community. She understands many of the needs and challenges facing the children who attend our state’s largest public school system, and her experience running large public systems will bring a special expertise to the SRC.”

Houstoun is 65.  In addition to serving as president of the William Penn Foundation, she was secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare under Gov. Tom Ridge.  She's also worked as the chief financial officer for SEPTA, treasurer of the state of New Jersey and a senior official in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“Most of my career has been in programs for vulnerable populations,’’ Houston said in the release. “Working with committed professionals in affordable housing, transit, medical assistance, child welfare, and behavioral health and early childhood education has helped me to understand the challenges and complexity of Philadelphia’s families."

Houstoun lives in Philadelphia, is married and the mother of two adult daughters.  She is a graduate of the University of Arizona and the University of Texas.

Update 10:30 a.m.: Feather O. Houstoun has been officially nominated by Gov. Corbett to the Philadelphia School Reform Commission.

The official release of the information has been delayed until noon.

Earlier, multiple sources close to the situation had said Houstoum was widely expected to be named to SRC.

Houstoun is the former head of the William Penn Foundation.

She would replace Denise McGregor Armbrister, who resigned yesterday three months before her term was set to expire. Armbrister said that she was leaving early because she felt having her replacement seated now would help stabilize the district.

The SRC - and the district - have had several months of upheaval, with the departure of controversial superintendent Arlene Ackerman, a city ethics report that detailed back room deals over who would run a city high school, and the resignation of Armbrister, former SRC Chair Robert L. Archie Jr. and member Johnny Irizarry.

Mayor Nutter has already appointed replacements for Archie and Irizarry - Wendell Pritchett, who's serving as interim chair, and Lorene Cary.

Pedro Ramos was nominated by Gov. Corbett to fill another vacant seat, but he must still be confirmed by the state Senate. If confirmed, he will become chair.

Sources say that Ramos and Houstoun will move through the confirmation process together.

 Just one SRC member remains from the beginning of the year. Former city solicitor Joseph Dworetzky is expected to stay on the SRC.

Houstoun is well-regarded in city circles; her nomination is expected to be well-received in Philadelphia.

This is a developing story; check back for updates.

Click here for today's story in the Inquirer on the SRC

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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