Green, Jimenez confirmed to SRC; proposed funding boost falls short, some say

Green
Green
Posted: February 06, 2014

BY AN overwhelming majority, the state Senate yesterday confirmed Gov. Corbett's two nominees for the School Reform Commission, City Councilman Bill Green and People's Emergency Center CEO Farah Jimenez.

Green, who must resign from his Council post, replaces Pedro Ramos as SRC chair after Ramos stepped down last year to deal with family concerns, while Jimenez takes over for Joseph Dworetzky on the five-member board. The two were approved by a 44-2 vote, with Sens. Vincent Hughes and Andrew Dinniman the only nay votes.

Hughes, D-Phila., was disappointed that Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi denied a request for public hearings, which would have required the nominees to answer questions on their views - a concern echoed by other Philly lawmakers.

"These two individuals represent the governor, so the question then becomes: Where do they sit in terms of the governor's views? Where do they sit in terms of their own views?" Hughes asked.

Jimenez said she looks forward to joining the governing body and hopes this will be a "breakthrough year" for city schools, but acknowledged that bringing financial stability to the district will be challenging.

"It will be hard, but that being said, if we don't solve that critical problem we're not going to be able to focus on the most important piece: How do we get more kids graduating from high school . . . ?" she said.

Corbett's budget proposal unveiled yesterday would provide an additional $29 million for the district through the Ready to Learn initiative, which districts can use on certain educational programs. It does not increase the basic education subsidy or charter-school reimbursement costs.

Parents, teachers and elected officials all applauded the increase, but said it is not enough.

"Two years of unprecedented school-budget cuts have left our children without counselors, nurses, teachers, librarians, and noninstructional staff," Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, said in a statement. "While we welcome any increase in education funding, without a formula to provide fair and sustainable public-school funding, the governor's budget line for education is not enough to make school districts whole again."

Superintendent Bill Hite said he was "encouraged" by the proposed additional funding.

"The call for investment in educational programs for the early grades and supports for students with special needs are consistent with our goals," Hite said in a statement. "In the coming days, we will review and analyze how the additional funds will support our schools in Philadelphia."


Twitter: @ChroniclesofSol

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