October 18, 2013 |
THE ART stays. The School Reform Commission voted unanimously last night to oppose the sale of an esteemed art collection, prompting surprise and joy among advocates for the artwork. The resolution would have authorized the sale of 60 paintings that have been locked away since about 2004. The proceeds would have gone to the general fund and not toward an education fund, which was a sticking point with SRC member Feather Houstoun. She said she received many phone calls asking that if the art had to be sold that any proceeds should go toward art education.
October 17, 2013 |
Five weeks into the school year and under a cloud of fiscal uncertainty, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission on Tuesday night got an earful about the need to improve interaction with parents. "You've undermined whatever people have tried to build with virtually next to nothing," said Rebecca Poyourow, who has two children at Cook-Wissahickon School. The district continues to operate without sufficient counselors and teachers, and with financial woes. Poyourow was one of about 100 parents and community members who attended the SRC meeting, held specifically to discuss parent engagement.
September 26, 2013 |
Charles Zogby said what?! Zogby, Gov. Corbett's budget secretary, said he wasn't really expecting to make news when he told a reporter this week that there was talk in Harrisburg of giving taxing authority to the unelected members of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission. He said the idea had arisen because of the stalemate between Mayor Nutter and City Council over extending the city's extra 1 percent sales tax for the benefit of the cash-strapped schools. Council has refused to even introduce the mayor's proposal to extend the tax. If Council won't act, Zogby told a reporter from WHYY NewsWorks, maybe the taxing authority should go to the members of the SRC. On Tuesday, when asked to elaborate, Zogby was vague about who exactly had suggested that alternative - saying only that there had been "various discussions in the Capitol.
September 25, 2013 |
At its first voting meeting of the new academic year, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission heard from parents and staff about the effect staff cuts and resource shortages are having on schools. Ruth Garcia, one of 16 itinerant counselors, said she was now responsible for more than 3,700 students at eight schools. She asked the SRC how itinerant counselors could be expected to help that many students with their academic, personal, and social issues and assist special-education students.
September 24, 2013 |
School Reform Commission Chairman Pedro A. Ramos, 48, must lead Philadelphia's school system through its worst fiscal crisis in memory - $220 million deficit, thousands laid off, barely enough money to operate the schools this year. Most counselors, secretaries, and vice principals will be missing. No wonder SRC meetings are loud and tense. Question: How do you restrain your temper when people are yelling at you? Answer: There's nothing to restrain. Q: Forgive my disbelief.
September 18, 2013 |
Parents, educators, and others discussed school safety Monday night, a week after 134,000 students returned to classes in the Philadelphia School District and found fewer counselors, teachers, and support staff. The School Reform Commission's first planning session of the academic year focused on the district's efforts to improve school environments to curb violence. The reported sexual assault of a Morton McMichael School student earlier in the day was not mentioned during the two-hour session.
September 18, 2013 |
A WEEK AFTER the state Department of Education announced a reduction in violence reported at district schools, officials said yesterday that they are optimistic some new initiatives will lead to further improvements. Just two district schools were listed on the state's persistently dangerous list, down from six the previous year and 10 two years ago. The number of violent incidents reported dropped 32 percent in the 2011-12 academic year. In June, the district announced a $730,676 multiyear grant to provide training and support to teachers, staff, students and parents at 20 schools on restorative practices and behavioral intervention.
August 24, 2013 |
Anger over the Philadelphia School District's funding crisis spilled Thursday from the streets of Center City to district headquarters, where the School Reform Commission held its last scheduled meeting before the start of classes next month. In midafternoon, more than 1,000 protesters, many in red T-shirts and carrying signs and banners, marched from the Comcast Center at 17th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard to the district's offices on North Broad Street. Later, at the meeting inside, parents, students, and teachers told the SRC that they were alarmed by the financial problems and concerned about whether schools could open safely and educate students with fewer staff.
August 23, 2013 |
THE SCHOOL REFORM Commission last night approved license agreements for five Renaissance charter schools, among other resolutions, during its last meeting before the school year begins. There were spirited speeches, a fair share of boos and frustrated audience members carrying posters criticizing the district, and a well-attended protest outside district headquarters, but last night's SRC meeting was more subdued than last week's emergency session, during which the commission unanimously voted to suspend certain sections of the state public-school code.
August 16, 2013 |
With less than 48 hours until the funding deadline set by Philadelphia's schools chief, the School Reform Commission has called a meeting Thursday to consider actions he says will give him more flexibility to run schools whenever they open. Word of the special session came amid signals from city, state, and school officials that they were still working to meet what a Corbett administration aide called Friday's "doable" deadline and open the schools Sept. 9, but they weren't there yet. Because the district is still facing a deficit of more than $270 million and reeling from massive layoffs, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said he would ask the SRC to suspend parts of the state school code dealing with seniority so that employees who are recalled can return to the schools where they worked in June.