Saturday, August 1, 2015

POSTED: Tuesday, June 16, 2015, 2:35 PM
The School Reform Commission holds a public hearing Tuesday, April 28, 2015, on its plan to close Kensington Urban Education Academy and consolidate it with Kensington International Business, Finance and Entrepreneurship. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)

The planned closure of Kensington Urban Education Academy High School - scheduled for this week - has been pushed back a year, the Philadelphia School District told parents and students Tuesday.

Community pressure caused the shift, officials said. The school will still close, merging with Kensington International Business, Finance and Entrepreneurship High School, but the two schools will become one in September 2016.

In a letter to the school community, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said that the planning year "will provide more time to collaborate with students, staff, families and community stakeholders on the design for a new academic program at the merged school."

POSTED: Monday, June 15, 2015, 4:40 PM
James Well, 8, jumps through water from a fire hydrant in South Philadelphia on Friday, June 12, 2015. Philadelphia public schools will close at noon on Tuesday due to foretasted high temperatures. (YONG KIM / Staff Photographer)

Because of forecasted high temperatures, Philadelphia public schools will close at noon on Tuesday, officials announced.

Most city schools lack air conditioning.

Schools with graduation ceremonies planned for Tuesday have the option of remaining open for the ceremonies. Call individual schools to confirm graduation schedules.

POSTED: Wednesday, June 10, 2015, 12:58 PM
Philadelphia School District officials have said that it would cost $17 million to put full-time, unionized nurses in every public school. (File photo)

When he was in kindergarten, Sabrina Jones' medically fragile son had a rotating cast of private-duty nurses at his Philadelphia public school.

"It just wasn't a good experience," said Jones — too little consistency, no real connection with her son, who has a feeding tube. But when her son moved to a school that had a full-time school nurse, things improved dramatically.

"The relationship between the nurse and my child is essential," said Jones, whose son is now a fourth-grader at Lingelbach Elementary in Germantown. "How could you think replacing school nurses could possibly help children?"

POSTED: Tuesday, June 9, 2015, 4:37 PM
"I'm not sure it's ever been done before, to have the auditor general at the disposal of City Council," Schools Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said. "We welcome the scrutiny." (STEPHANIE AARONSON/Staff Photographer)

Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. heard City Council clearly - they're skeptical of how the millions they've provided over the past several years have been spent.

Council's concerns were raised anew in the past few weeks, as they consider Mayor Nutter's proposal to hike property taxes to give the schools an additional $105 million. That plan appears dead in the water, with Council officials saying they are more likely to enact a plan that includes a more modest tax hike, coupled with a raise in the Use and Occupancy tax and possibly a jump in parking-lot taxes.

Hite and his team say they've provided every detail Council wants. But the Philadelphia School District chief had an idea: what if the state's top auditor would help give city officials assurances, too?

POSTED: Thursday, May 28, 2015, 1:31 PM
Chief Financial Officer Matthew Stanski said the analysis underscored the points officials were trying to make this week to a skeptical, frustrated City Council: they keep coming back for more money year after year because the money they receive isn’t enough to cover their fixed costs. (MICHAEL BRYANT/Staff Photographer)

In the face of steep revenue cuts, the city school system is now spending less to educate each student than it has since 2008, and benefits are costing it nearly $8,000 more per teacher than they did three years ago.

Mix lower revenues with rising fixed costs and the result is fewer dollars spent in Philadelphia School District classrooms, an outside analysis of district finances released Thursday found.

Chief Financial Officer Matthew Stanski said the analysis underscored the points officials were trying to make this week to a skeptical, frustrated City Council: they keep coming back for more money year after year because the money they receive isn’t enough to cover their fixed costs.

POSTED: Thursday, May 21, 2015, 3:28 PM
“Without additional funding, the schools will have another bleak year,” Finance Director Rob Dubow said at a Council hearing. (DAVID SWANSON/Staff Photographer)

A top Nutter administration official Thursday made a pitch to City Council: the mayor’s proposed property-tax hike is the clearest way to get city schools the $105 million they desperately need.

“Without additional funding, the schools will have another bleak year,” Finance Director Rob Dubow said at a Council hearing.

Mayor Nutter wants a 9.3 percent jump in the city’s property-tax rate to generate $105 million for the beleaguered Philadelphia School District, but skeptical Council members have indicated that it’s going to be a very hard sell.

POSTED: Monday, May 18, 2015, 2:22 PM
File: Unite Here Local 634 members demonstrate in front of City Hall in 2013. (Akira Suwa / Staff Photographer)

Another union has a deal with the Philadelphia School District.

The members of Unite Here Local 634, which represents school cafeteria workers and noontime aides, has ratified a four-year contract that contains benefits savings and work-rule changes including a weakening of seniority rights.

The workers - the district's lowest-paid - will actually get pay bumps made possible, officials said, by allowing the district to temporarily stop payments to the union's health and welfare fund. Most workers in the union are part-time, earning $10.88 hourly, or about $8,000 annually.

POSTED: Friday, May 15, 2015, 12:34 PM
Helen Gym. ( (ED HILLE / Staff Photographer)

Helen Gym's City Council campaign got early momentum from an endorsement from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. On Friday, it was bolstered by the effusive support of Randi Weingarten, the president of the national teachers' union.

"If we had more people like Helen in public office, we'd be solving more problems across the United States of America," Weingarten said, standing outside the Philadelphia School District headquarters. "I'm impressed by her passion, by her smarts, by her ability to problem solve."

Weingarten and District Attorney Seth Williams spoke at a late-morning rally for Gym, the longtime public-education activist. Mayoral candidate Jim Kenney stood behind Gym at the event, but did not speak.

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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