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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
A GROUP OF longtime educators and school advocates is taking Bill Green to court. The education advocacy group Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools filed a lawsuit yesterday in Common Pleas Court alleging that Green, as chairman of the School Reform Commission, and the rest of the body, violated the "letter and the spirit" of the state's Sunshine Law during its Oct. 6 meeting when it voted to unilaterally cancel a contract with the Philadelphia Federation...
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.
NEWS
November 14, 2014 | BY SOLOMON LEACH, Daily News Staff Writer leachs@phillynews.com, 215-854-5903
NEW VIDEO released yesterday shows School Reform Commission member Sylvia Simms telling student protesters, "Y'all probably in failing schools," during a confrontation last month. The exchange happened Oct. 15 when more than a dozen students with the Philadelphia Student Union interrupted a showing of the movie "Won't Back Down" hosted by Simms and Comcast at the district's headquarters. The film is loosely based on events in Los Angeles in 2010, when parents tried to take over several failing public schools.
NEWS
November 1, 2014
CITY COUNCIL unanimously passed a resolution yesterday urging the School Reform Commission and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers to return to the bargaining table. The resolution, sponsored by Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, comes weeks after the SRC unilaterally canceled the contract with the teachers' union on Oct. 6 and imposed health-care benefits requiring members to pay toward their premiums - most of them for the first time - to save about $44 million this year and more than $200 million over the next four years.
NEWS
October 22, 2014 | By Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer
A Common Pleas Court judge Monday granted the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers' request for a preliminary injunction to stop the School Reform Commission from imposing changes to teachers' health-care benefits. After hearing nearly four hours of testimony, Judge Nina Wright Padilla issued the short order from the bench without elaborating. Her ruling prevents the SRC - at least for now - from implementing the broad changes it approved Oct. 6, when it voted to cancel the PFT contract and require union members to contribute to the cost of their health-care premiums beginning in December.
NEWS
October 19, 2014 | By Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer
Striking back against a move to cancel its contract, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers on Friday challenged the School Reform Commission on several fronts. The teachers' union asked for an injunction to halt planned changes to its members' health-care plans. It filed bad-faith bargaining charges against the SRC with the state Labor Relations Board. And it asserted that a key ruling - now scheduled to be made in Commonwealth Court - on whether the SRC has the power to cancel the labor contract should be decided in a lower court or through arbitration.
NEWS
October 18, 2014 | By Susan Snyder, Inquirer Staff Writer
A member of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission has come under fire for yelling at student protesters who disrupted a parent movie night held Wednesday at school district headquarters. Ruby Anderson, a senior at Science Leadership Academy, and two other people in attendance said Commissioner Sylvia Simms asked students what schools they attend and then told them: "You all probably go to failing schools. " "I thought it was pretty inappropriate for a public official to yell at people she's supposed to be representing," said Anderson, who was among about 20 students staging the sit-in.
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