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NEWS
June 1, 2014 | By Jason Grant, Inquirer Staff Writer
Some listeners jumped up and cheered Thursday night when the School Reform Commission took a bold and unprecedented step, declaring it would not pass a budget by the City Charter's end-of-May deadline. Making a budget by Saturday, amped-up and frustrated school officials said, would mean putting their weight behind an underfunded plan that would force "devastating and unacceptable" cuts to Philadelphia's already beleaguered schools, dish out 800 teacher layoffs, and perhaps ultimately put children's safety at risk.
NEWS
May 31, 2014 | By Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer
Taking an unexpected, unprecedented stand, the School Reform Commission refused Thursday night to pass a 2014-15 budget. Its officials said they would deliberately violate the City Charter by not approving a spending plan. A visibly frustrated Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said he could not recommend the $2.4 billion budget "as educationally sound or economically prudent for the city or state. " "Our severely under-resourced school system threatens the future of one of America's greatest cities," Hite said.
NEWS
May 30, 2014 | BY SOLOMON LEACH, Daily News Staff Writer leachs@phillynews.com, 215-854-5903
IN AN unprecedented move, the School Reform Commission opted yesterday not to vote on a proposed "doomsday" budget that would have required more than 1,000 layoffs, significantly increased class sizes, reduced school police and special-education services. Under the city charter, the school district is required to adopt a budget by May 30. Superintendent William Hite said the district needs a clearer answer from city and state lawmakers on the district's request for an additional $216 million before it can come up with a realistic spending plan.
NEWS
May 29, 2014 | By Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court gave a rare bit of good news Tuesday to the cash-strapped Philadelphia School Reform Commission. The top court unanimously reversed a lower-court ruling that said the school district had illegally capped enrollment at Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School. The lower court had said the school should be paid $1.3 million from the district for students it had enrolled above the 675 enrollment maximum in its signed agreement. The Supreme Court overturned the lower court, said the charter was bound by the terms of an agreement it had signed with the district in 2005, and was not entitled to the additional money.
NEWS
May 18, 2014 | By Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer
The state Supreme Court has granted a temporary restraining order that bars the Philadelphia School Reform Commission from taking action against a charter school. It marks the first time the top court has entered the dispute over the powers the commission has to ignore state law in order to protect its finances by managing charter enrollment. On Thursday, the court approved West Philadelphia Achievement Charter Elementary School's request to decide whether the law that led to the state takeover of the district in 2001 permits the SRC to suspend parts of other laws to deal with the district's financial crisis.
NEWS
May 2, 2014 | By Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer
Parents and community members, anguished by a proposed Philadelphia School District budget that could mean 1,000 layoffs and class sizes swelling to 41, lashed out Wednesday night at the School Reform Commission, describing the situation inside schools as "dangerous," "insanity," even "institutionalized child abuse. " Chairman Bill Green, at whom much of the anger was directed, did not disagree. "Make no mistake," he said in response to more than two hours of outrage from the public.
NEWS
April 27, 2014 | By Kristen A. Graham and Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writers
PHILADELPHIA At the end of a marathon meeting, the School Reform Commission voted late Thursday to begin the process of suspending the charter of the Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners School. It also adopted a new charter policy and renewed the charters of several schools. Four commissioners supported the resolution to begin shutdown proceedings for Palmer. Sylvia Simms voted no, but did not explain why. Farah Jimenez said she voted yes reluctantly. The charter policy passed by a 4-1 vote as well.
NEWS
April 25, 2014 | By Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer
PHILADELPHIA The Philadelphia School Reform Commission's powers to suspend portions of the state law covering charter schools may have hit a snag. A Common Pleas Court judge ruled Monday that the law that led to the state takeover of city schools in 2001 did not give the SRC the power to cap their enrollment to ease the district's financial woes. "This court clearly recognizes and understands the severe conditions which exist in the Philadelphia School District," Judge Gary S. Glazer wrote in an opinion dealing with the SRC's efforts to cap enrollment at five city charters.
NEWS
April 24, 2014 | By Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer
Philadelphians want the School Reform Commission abolished and the city's public schools returned to local control, the city teachers union said Tuesday. Nearly 97 percent of more than 3,000 city residents it surveyed - mostly public school parents - want the state takeover to end, said Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan. The SRC was created in 2001 as a way to rapidly change a school district that was ailing financially and academically. Though the district has made incremental academic gains, it is fiscally in much worse shape than it was 13 years ago. City Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell said she would introduce a nonbinding resolution endorsing the idea of local control, and Jordan said the union would try to have a nonbinding referendum placed on the November ballot asking all city voters to weigh in. "The number-one issue people are talking about is schools," State Sen. Vincent Hughes (D., Phila.)
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