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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 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.
NEWS
December 19, 2014 | BY SOLOMON LEACH, Daily News Staff Writer leachs@phillynews.com, 215-854-5903
THE SCHOOL REFORM Commission last night adopted a five-year financial plan that maintains the status quo, but signaled its intention to push a more-ambitious agenda that would require significant investments from the city and state. The adopted plan shows a projected $30 million budget gap for the fiscal year that starts July 1, compared to a $216 million anticipated shortfall last year. The spending plan reflects a continued rise in pension costs and charter-school payments, but also assumes that health-care benefits imposed on the teachers' union will be upheld - something that Commonwealth Court has yet to decide.
NEWS
November 22, 2014 | By Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer
Despite pleas from board members and parents, the School Reform Commission voted, 4-1, Thursday night to close another Philadelphia charter school for alleged academic and financial failings: Imani Education Circle in Germantown. Commissioner Sylvia Simms cast the dissenting vote. Imani officials challenged the commission's findings and vowed to take the case to the state's Charter Appeal Board in Harrisburg. "One of the most demeaning issues is that no one on that commission has been to Imani," Imani board member Gail Hawkins-Bush said after the meeting.
NEWS
November 21, 2014 | BY SOLOMON LEACH, Daily News Staff Writer leachs@phillynews.com, 215-854-5903
THE SCHOOL Reform Commission got an earful last night from school-choice supporters as it voted not to renew one charter and gets ready to consider applications for dozens of new ones. The commission voted 4-1 for non-renewal of Imani Education Circle Charter in Germantown. Sylvia Simms was the lone dissenting vote. Officials cited poor performance on state standardized tests and financial woes at the K-8 school, which serves roughly 450 students. Imani supporters, which included board members and staff, refuted claims about academic struggles and said families would be hard-pressed to find better options.
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