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NEWS
February 24, 2015
EVEN FOR a school district that has essentially set up permanent residency between a rock and a hard place, last week's vote by the School Reform Commission to approve five new charter schools was notable. Faced with 39 applications for charters, pressure from Harrisburg lawmakers and Philadelphia School Partnership to approve as many as possible, pressure from Gov. Wolf to approve none, vocal protesters at the meeting on both sides of the issue, and a deficit that can only be worsened with more charter schools, the SRC took what looks to be the most prudent path: five approvals, 34 denials.
NEWS
February 21, 2015 | By Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer
The School Reform Commission continued to take heat Thursday for its decision to approve five new charter schools, with critics from both sides railing against the action. Mark Gleason, executive director of Philadelphia School Partnership, said he was "deeply disappointed" that the SRC approved only five schools, with 2,684 places for students, Wednesday, rejecting proposals by qualified schools. PSP, a well-funded, controversial nonprofit dedicated to expanding strong schools, had offered $25 million to help defray new-charter costs, but for now, that money is off the table, Gleason said.
NEWS
February 20, 2015 | BY SOLOMON LEACH, Daily News Staff Writer leachs@phillynews.com, 215-854-5903
AMID PROTESTS, the School Reform Commission last night voted to authorize five new charter schools - the first stand-alone charters approved in Philadelphia since 2007 - while rejecting 34 others. Following more than four hours of passionate testimony, the commission approved conditional charters for Independence Charter West, KIPP Dubois, Mastery Gillespie, MaST Community Charter-Roosevelt and TECH Freire, creating a total of 2,684 charter seats over the next three years. The approved operators each have existing schools in the district and are scheduled to open their new facilities in September 2016.
NEWS
February 20, 2015 | BY SOLOMON LEACH, Daily News Staff Writer leachs@phillynews.com, 215-854-5903
ELECTED OFFICIALS and education reformers yesterday voiced frustration with the School Reform Commission's decision to approve five of 39 charter applications. The commission voted during a raucous meeting Wednesday to grant charters to Independence, MaST Community, KIPP, Mastery and Freire. The approved applicants are the first stand-alone charters granted in the city since 2007 and will provide an additional 2,684 seats by 2019. Despite the measured approach, those on both sides of the issue were unhappy with the outcome.
NEWS
February 20, 2015 | By Martha Woodall and Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writers
Amid intense pressure from all sides, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission voted Wednesday night to approve five new charter schools from among the 39 applications at the end of an often tumultuous evening. The successful applicants were offered three-year charters with a long list of conditions. SRC Chairman Bill Green said the charter operators and the commission have until May 31 to agree on terms. The approved plans came from existing nonprofits that have operated successful charter schools in the city for years: KIPP, Mastery, Freire, Independence, and MaST.
NEWS
February 18, 2015 | By Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer
Just days before the fate of 39 new charter-school applications is decided, pressure on the School Reform Commission is building from all sides. Top state Senate Republicans have sent Chairman Bill Green a letter saying they were "confident" that the SRC would approve strong charter schools. The letter, obtained by The Inquirer and sent Friday by Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R., Jefferson), Majority Leader Jake Corman (R., Centre), and Education Committee Chairman Lloyd Smucker (R., Lancaster)
NEWS
February 17, 2015
ON WEDNESDAY, the School Reform Commission will be meeting to decide the fate of 39 applications for charters schools - as well as the fate of the thousands of students left behind in district schools. Perhaps no decision the SRC makes has more impact on the fortunes of the district. That's because every charter student the SRC approves represents money lost to the district at a much faster rate than its costs decline. And since the funding priorities from Harrisburg squarely favor charters, the pressure is on the SRC to make decisions that are not in the district's best interests.
NEWS
February 4, 2015 | BY SOLOMON LEACH, Daily News Staff Writer leachs@phillynews.com, 215-854-5903
THE SCHOOL Reform Commission wants to push back the deadline to vote on dozens of charter applications. The SRC sent letters on Friday to 30 groups who submitted 39 applications to the Philadelphia School District in November, asking applicants to sign a waiver to postpone the deadline from Feb. 21 until June 1 due to the high number of applications. "This is a voluntary request," district spokeswoman Raven Hill said. "For those who don't agree to it, we would have to vote [this month]
NEWS
January 29, 2015
SHOULD the School Reform Commission be dissolved in favor of an elected school board? Newly elected Gov. Wolf supports the idea. So does a group of vocal education activists in the city. Some mayoral candidates are on board with the idea. The teachers union would vastly prefer an elected board to the governance system we have now - especially after the School Reform Commission's recent attempt to cancel union contracts, a move blocked last week by Commonwealth Court. Despite support from some quarters, it's not a sure thing.
NEWS
January 24, 2015 | By Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer
Commonwealth Court judges ruled Thursday that the School Reform Commission does not have the power to cancel union contracts, restoring health-care cuts that were to save the Philadelphia schools $54 million annually. The unanimous ruling appeared to strike down a core operating belief of the SRC. PFT president Jerry Jordan called the decision "a very big victory" that affirmed the union's position that contracts must be negotiated, not imposed, and that the state law that created the SRC did not give it the power to wipe away collective bargaining.
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