IN THE NEWS

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NEWS
July 16, 2015 | BY REGINA MEDINA, Daily News Staff Writer medinar@phillynews.com, 215-854-5985
PEDRO RAMOS, the former chairman of the School Reform Commission, has been appointed president and CEO of the Philadelphia Foundation, the organization announced yesterday. "This is an opportunity that doesn't present itself often," Ramos, 50, said last night in a phone interview. "It's the leading community institution for bringing people together around the needs of the Philadelphia community. " Ramos will be coming on board as the organization approaches its 97th anniversary.
NEWS
July 2, 2015 | BY SOLOMON LEACH, Daily News Staff Writer leachs@phillynews.com, 215-854-5903
THE SCHOOL REFORM Commission last night unanimously adopted a $2.8 billion budget for Philadelphia public schools that relies on more than $100 million in new but unlikely state funding. The district's budget includes $159 million in additional dollars proposed by Gov. Wolf, andneeds a minimum of $18 million from Harrisburg to close a projected deficit and avoid any further cuts. Although officials said they hope for the full amount to begin making new investments in the cash-strapped schools, the budget contains a clause that prohibits spending any additional money until the state budget is approved.
NEWS
July 2, 2015 | By Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer
With no end in sight to budget debates in Harrisburg, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission adopted a spending plan Tuesday that guarantees little else beyond schools opening on time in September. The SRC unanimously approved a $2.6 billion budget that could rise to $2.8 billion, depending on how much money state lawmakers appropriate for Philadelphia schools. Principals and central office staff, however, will have no authority to spend beyond this year's austerity levels until a state budget deal is reached.
NEWS
June 20, 2015 | By Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer
The Philadelphia School Reform Commission voted Thursday night to outsource more than 1,000 substitute-teaching jobs, awarding a $34 million contract to a Cherry Hill firm to recruit, hire, and manage the workers for two years. The unanimous vote came over the protests of the teachers' union, which currently represents subs. Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, vowed legal action, including a possible claim of unfair labor practices, and said the move was part of a plan to "privatize public education one position at a time.
NEWS
June 10, 2015 | By Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer
It's officially safe to carry signs to School Reform Commission meetings. Three former Philadelphia teachers have settled a civil-rights lawsuit they filed against the SRC, Commissioner Bill Green, the city, and others, splitting $32,500 in what they say were First Amendment violations. At a crowded and contentious February SRC meeting, officials confiscated placards from Lisa Haver, Ilene Poses, and Barbara Dowdall. City police also removed Poses from Philadelphia School District headquarters after she refused to surrender the sign she wore around her neck.
NEWS
June 3, 2015 | By Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer
There is little appetite for a tax increase to help Philadelphia schools. School Reform Commission members can spend 20 hours a week, easily, on their unpaid and often frustrating job. Contract negotiations with the teachers' union are proceeding, even if the union doesn't find them productive. And, yes, the SRC talks behind closed doors about eliminating itself. (But says it's not the right time yet.) Those and other tidbits came to light during a Monday meeting at which the commission attempted to be more responsive to parents and community members.
NEWS
June 3, 2015 | BY SOLOMON LEACH, Daily News Staff Writer leachs@phillynews.com, 215-854-5903
THE SCHOOL REFORM Commission took questions from the public Monday night during a forum aimed at being more responsive to the community. Seriously. This is not a joke. Sitting in armchairs facing the audience in a talk-show format, four of the five commissioners fielded questions on a wide range of topics - from bus schedules to the community-schools model to abolishing itself - during the two-hour session before a crowd of a few dozen people. For the most part, the mood was calm, but not all of the discourse was friendly.
NEWS
May 27, 2015 | By Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer
What Marjorie Neff envisioned for her life after retiring in June was travel and undivided time with family, sprinkled with regular stints volunteering at her neighborhood school. What the former Philadelphia principal got was quite different - one of the toughest positions in the city, unpaid at that, with political stakes so high the future of 200,000 children depends in part on how well she does her job. When she told one of her sons over the winter she was about to become chair of the School Reform Commission, he was a little wistful: Why couldn't Neff be more like his girlfriend's mother?
NEWS
May 23, 2015 | By Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer
The School Reform Commission approved a new charter school Thursday, bringing to six the number it has signed off on this year. The SRC had denied KIPP West Philadelphia Charter's application in February, but the organization tweaked the proposal, making changes to proposed school governance, academic certification, location, and opening date. On second pass, the SRC approved the school's charter, 3-1. But it was not a ringing endorsement. Chairwoman Marjorie Neff voted against the charter, and Commissioner Feather Houstoun said she felt it did not rise to the level of other applications, but was approving it because leaving the board deadlocked put the SRC on shaky ground legally.
NEWS
May 22, 2015 | BY SOLOMON LEACH, Daily News Staff Writer leachs@phillynews.com, 215-854-5903
THE SCHOOL Reform Commission last night approved the opening of a new KIPP charter school and transferred management of a failing charter to Mastery. KIPP West Philadelphia, which was one of 34 charter applications denied in February, submitted a revised application last month to address concerns about governance, qualifications of staff and the proposed opening date. The SRC voted 3-1 to grant it a three-year charter for grades K-4, beginning in 2016. The school was approved for 200 students in the first year and may enroll up to 375 by 2018-19.
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