IN THE NEWS

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NEWS
October 8, 2014 | BY SOLOMON LEACH, Daily News Staff Writer leachs@phillynews.com, 215-854-5903
AFTER MONTHS of threats, Bill Green officially declared war on Philadelphia public school teachers. In a bold but unsurprising move, the School Reform Commission, chaired by Green, voted yesterday to unilaterally cancel the teachers union contract and impose health-care-benefits changes - during a hastily called 9:30 a.m. meeting - sparking outrage from union leaders, elected officials and education activists. District officials said the benefits changes will save about $44 million this year and $200 million over the next four years, which will be redirected to schools for key resources, such as counselors and nurses.
NEWS
September 23, 2014
VOTERS won't be seeing a referendum question on abolishing the School Reform Commission on November's ballot, since City Council had too short a time between passing the resolution last week and the deadline for inclusion; the bill is still on Mayor Nutter's desk, waiting for a signature. Maybe it will appear in May, but voters should pay attention now to what they'll see - and won't see. They may see a nonbinding vote saying something like, "Should Philadelphia abolish the SRC?"
NEWS
September 21, 2014 | By Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer
Eliminate the School Reform Commission? Not so fast, says its chairman, Bill Green. Responding to a City Council vote Thursday to place on the November ballot a nonbinding question asking Philadelphia voters whether they want schools returned to local control, Green was emphatic: The SRC isn't going away yet, and he's not threatened by Council's move. "I view it as symbolic," Green said of the referendum. "There's no substance there. " The SRC was created in 2001 by an act of the legislature, and the only way for it to go away is to vote itself out of existence.
NEWS
September 21, 2014 | BY CHRIS BRENNAN, Daily News Staff Writer brennac@phillynews.com, 215-854-5973
YOU KNOW that nonbinding ballot referendum City Council approved Thursday to ask voters if the School Reform Commission should be abolished? Don't count on seeing it on the Nov. 4 general-election ballot. The deadline to get the measure, sponsored by City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, placed on the ballot passed on Monday. The City Commission, which runs elections in the city, yesterday mailed out absentee ballots, military ballots and ballots for civilians overseas. The question is not on those ballots.
NEWS
September 20, 2014 | By Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer
The Philadelphia School Reform Commission voted Thursday night to sell 11 shuttered school buildings - including Germantown High - in a group of transactions that would net just $2 million. The sales were met with alarm in some corners. Germantown residents in particular said they had no idea the property, which closed to students in 2013, was about to change hands. "You took us all incredibly by surprise," retired teacher Karel Kilimnik told the SRC. Germantown neighbors have been meeting for a year to discuss possible uses for the high school site.
NEWS
September 19, 2014 | BY CHRIS BRENNAN, Daily News Staff Writer brennac@phillynews.com, 215-854-5973
SYMBOLISM AND union anger trumped substance and legislative caution yesterday as City Council overwhelmingly approved a ballot referendum asking voters if the School Reform Commission should be abolished. The question now: Will Mayor Nutter sign that measure into law, allowing the nonbinding referendum to appear on the Nov. 4 general-election ballot? Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, the legislation's sponsor, apologized to a raucous crowd of union members and education activists who were openly disappointed that she did not bring the subject up for a vote last week.
NEWS
September 19, 2014 | BY SOLOMON LEACH, Daily News Staff Writer leachs@phillynews.com, 215-854-5903
THE SCHOOL Reform Commission yesterday approved the sale of 11 vacant school buildings for $14.2 million and amended the sale agreement for the former West Philadelphia High School. Ten of the buildings approved for sale yesterday were closed last year because of declining enrollment, including the former Germantown High, Bok Technical High and Vare Elementary. The buyers include the Philadelphia Housing Authority and the Concordia Group, a Washington-based real-estate-development firm.
NEWS
September 13, 2014 | By Claudia Vargas, Inquirer Staff Writer
  Gov. Corbett might not get the memo after all. Despite 40,000 signatures on a petition from school reform advocates and a morning rally outside City Hall, Philadelphia City Council on Thursday killed an effort that would have asked the governor to dissolve the School Reform Commission. In its first meeting since returning from summer recess, Council introduced a flurry of bills but also passed on some legislation left over from the spring term, including a resolution to put a question on the November ballot asking voters if they support abolishing the SRC and returning schools to local control.
NEWS
July 11, 2014 | By Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer
Being a school reform commissioner was often a tough job, Wendell Pritchett said - a lot of hard decisions, endless meetings with people yelling, and never enough money. So he seized any chance to meet with some of the 131,500 students who attend city public schools. "Whenever we interacted with kids in the School District, it was really heartening. We have amazing kids," said Pritchett, who resigned from his School Reform Commission seat last week. "But it was also disheartening, because we're not serving them well.
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