Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Saturday, March 1, 2014, 11:10 AM
SRC chairman Bill Green, right, has signaled he is willing to use the commission's powers to impose terms on its unions.

Officials from the union that represents Philadelphia School District principals have a tentative agreement on a new contract with "serious concessions", and will present the new pact to members at a meeting this Thursday.

Members of The Commonwealth Association of School Administrators received notice of the meeting on Saturday. They are set to consider the new pact on Thursday.

The principals' contract expired in August.

POSTED: Wednesday, February 26, 2014, 3:35 PM
University City High School

The Philadelphia School District is close to four deals for closed school buildings, it announced today.

The district said it is negotiating deals on these properties:

Anna Shaw Middle School, 5400 Warrington Ave. (Southwest Philadelphia). Buyer: Mastery Charter. Proposed use: educational.

POSTED: Thursday, February 20, 2014, 3:35 PM

It's the first School Reform Commission meeting for new Chairman Bill Green and Commissioner Farah Jimenez, and it should be a lively one. This week, Superintendent Bill Hite released his ambitious action plan - base pricetag, $320 million. Protesters are expected to "welcome" Green. And we'll hear a financial update, with details expected of how the district plans to pay for unexpected charter school costs incurred this fiscal year.

Earlier today, both City Council President Darrell Clarke and Mayor Nutter weighed in on Hite's action plan and his call for massive new revenue streams.

Nutter, at a news conference Thursday afternoon, said the city has done everything it can to increase funding on its end, including raising taxes and borrowing money. It’s the state’s turn now to do its part, he said.

Repeating the message he shared to business leaders at the annual Chamber of Commerce luncheon Tuesday, Nutter called on law makers in Harrisburg to pass legislation that would create a statewide student-weighted funding formula.

POSTED: Tuesday, February 18, 2014, 1:52 PM

The School Reform Commission has two new members. Farah Jimenez and Bill Green were sworn in as commissioners at 1 p.m. Tuesday. Green is chairman of the five-member volunteer panel.

They were sworn in by Family Court Judge Kevin Dougherty, who reminded them that "education is the vaccine against violence." Dougherty said that with the addition of Green and Jimenez, he believed that "we are truly on the right path. We have two great advocates."

Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. was in attendance, as were family members of each.

POSTED: Thursday, February 13, 2014, 9:17 AM
Contrary to what a SEPTA alert had said, the School District of Philadelphia WILL be closed as scheduled on Monday for Presidents' Day. A student looks out the frosted window of a school bus as it moves down 19th Street on Tuesday, January 7, 2014. (MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / staff photographer)

UPDATE, 5:15 p.m.

All Philadelphia public schools are now also closed on Friday because of the continued poor conditions, officials said Thursday evening. No decision has been made yet on whether administrative offices will be closed on Friday.

ORIGINALLY: Amid all the weather-related craziness, there's been some confusion over whether school will be held on Monday, Feb. 17 - President's Day, a long-scheduled holiday for students and staff. A service note from SEPTA erroneously said that Philadelphia public schools would be open to make up for all the snow days we've had this school year, and some folks have picked that up via social media and other news outlets.

POSTED: Friday, February 7, 2014, 4:12 PM

My colleague Martha Woodall wrote today that charter school costs will be $25 million more than the Philadelphia School District had budgeted for. The district will spend about $700 million on the 67,315 Philadelphia students enrolled in charters this school year.

The reasons? It's mostly because charter schools have enrolled about 1,600 more students than their caps say they ought to have.

The district pays charters $8,596 per student, or $22,242 for students who receive special-education services.

POSTED: Friday, January 17, 2014, 8:21 AM

Update: Gov. Corbett canceled his appearance at Central High today, avoiding a protest by about 300 people at the school. He held a news conference in Center City to announce the appointments of Bill Green and Farah Jiminez to the SRC.

Corbett said he did not go to Central because he feared it would be a distraction to the students and said "adult theatrics" ruined his plans.

Here's the previous post:

POSTED: Thursday, January 16, 2014, 3:56 PM
Superintendent William Hite, right, and SRC member Sylvia Simms listen to a parent at a recent hearing. (Ed Hille / Staff Photographer)
Big things are afoot at tonight's School Reform Commission meeting tonight.
The SRC will hear a presentation on testing integrity - presumably, news of the disrict's years-long investigation on cheating on state exams. Later, it will consider firing three principals in connection with alleged testing improprieties.
And, it will also consider renewing three charters.
Up for renewal are Laboratory Charter and Planet Abacus, both founded by June Brown, and Philadelphia Electrical and Technical, which was not.
After a lengthy trial, a jury in federal court acquitted Brown on six counts and deadlocked on 51 others. She will be re-tried.
Philadelphia Electrical and Technical had been investigated in the cheating probe. 
Another school, Arise Academy, could have its charter revoked. Arise was established to educate foster children, but has failed to meet academic and administrative goals, officials said.
I will be livetweeting, as always. Follow along BELOW.
UPDATE: 8:00 p.m.
For the last two and a half hours, a number of speakers have told of their experiences with the charter schools up for renewal — with most expressing concern for students' futures at the four charter schools in limbo if those schools either don't have their licenses renewed or have their licenses revoked. No vote has been taken yet.

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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