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NEWS
June 10, 2015 | By Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer
It's officially safe to carry signs to School Reform Commission meetings. Three former Philadelphia teachers have settled a civil-rights lawsuit they filed against the SRC, Commissioner Bill Green, the city, and others, splitting $32,500 in what they say were First Amendment violations. At a crowded and contentious February SRC meeting, officials confiscated placards from Lisa Haver, Ilene Poses, and Barbara Dowdall. City police also removed Poses from Philadelphia School District headquarters after she refused to surrender the sign she wore around her neck.
NEWS
June 3, 2015 | BY SOLOMON LEACH, Daily News Staff Writer leachs@phillynews.com, 215-854-5903
THE SCHOOL REFORM Commission took questions from the public Monday night during a forum aimed at being more responsive to the community. Seriously. This is not a joke. Sitting in armchairs facing the audience in a talk-show format, four of the five commissioners fielded questions on a wide range of topics - from bus schedules to the community-schools model to abolishing itself - during the two-hour session before a crowd of a few dozen people. For the most part, the mood was calm, but not all of the discourse was friendly.
NEWS
June 3, 2015 | By Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer
There is little appetite for a tax increase to help Philadelphia schools. School Reform Commission members can spend 20 hours a week, easily, on their unpaid and often frustrating job. Contract negotiations with the teachers' union are proceeding, even if the union doesn't find them productive. And, yes, the SRC talks behind closed doors about eliminating itself. (But says it's not the right time yet.) Those and other tidbits came to light during a Monday meeting at which the commission attempted to be more responsive to parents and community members.
NEWS
May 27, 2015 | By Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer
What Marjorie Neff envisioned for her life after retiring in June was travel and undivided time with family, sprinkled with regular stints volunteering at her neighborhood school. What the former Philadelphia principal got was quite different - one of the toughest positions in the city, unpaid at that, with political stakes so high the future of 200,000 children depends in part on how well she does her job. When she told one of her sons over the winter she was about to become chair of the School Reform Commission, he was a little wistful: Why couldn't Neff be more like his girlfriend's mother?
NEWS
May 23, 2015 | By Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer
The School Reform Commission approved a new charter school Thursday, bringing to six the number it has signed off on this year. The SRC had denied KIPP West Philadelphia Charter's application in February, but the organization tweaked the proposal, making changes to proposed school governance, academic certification, location, and opening date. On second pass, the SRC approved the school's charter, 3-1. But it was not a ringing endorsement. Chairwoman Marjorie Neff voted against the charter, and Commissioner Feather Houstoun said she felt it did not rise to the level of other applications, but was approving it because leaving the board deadlocked put the SRC on shaky ground legally.
NEWS
May 22, 2015 | BY SOLOMON LEACH, Daily News Staff Writer leachs@phillynews.com, 215-854-5903
THE SCHOOL Reform Commission last night approved the opening of a new KIPP charter school and transferred management of a failing charter to Mastery. KIPP West Philadelphia, which was one of 34 charter applications denied in February, submitted a revised application last month to address concerns about governance, qualifications of staff and the proposed opening date. The SRC voted 3-1 to grant it a three-year charter for grades K-4, beginning in 2016. The school was approved for 200 students in the first year and may enroll up to 375 by 2018-19.
NEWS
May 19, 2015 | Tricia L. Nadolny, Inquirer Staff Writer
Voters will weigh in on four ballot questions Tuesday that would change Philadelphia's Home Rule Charter, the city's governing document. Two pertain to education: one to abolish the School Reform Commission and another to explore offering universal prekindergarten. A third would create a commission to study the advancement of women, while the fourth would require city offices to plan for providing access to non-English speakers. History shows that the questions have a good chance of passing.
NEWS
May 13, 2015 | BY SOLOMON LEACH, Daily News Staff Writer leachs@phillynews.com, 215-854-5903
THE SCHOOL REFORM Commission voted yesterday to renew the charters of 12 schools and not to renew two others. Delaware Valley Charter High School and Universal Bluford Charter School were not renewed based on recommendations from district staff. Both schools will remain open, pending an appeal process that could take more than a year. Delaware Valley, located on Old York Road near Wagner Avenue in Olney, opened in 2000 and has 696 students. According to the district, the school failed to meet academic standards, with declining reading and math scores over the last three years.
NEWS
May 13, 2015 | By Martha Woodall and Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writers
During a special meeting devoted to charter schools, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission voted Monday to begin the process of closing two for academic and management shortcomings. One of the schools - Universal-Bluford, an elementary with nearly 600 students - is run by Universal Cos., the nonprofit founded by music mogul Kenny Gamble. In a 4-1 vote, the SRC voted not to renew Bluford's charter for five years. It was the first time a school run by Universal has been targeted for closure.
NEWS
April 21, 2015 | Inquirer Editorial Board
Philadelphia's School Reform Commission outlived its usefulness years ago, so it's disturbing that some candidates to become the city's next mayor haven't grasped that reality. The SRC was created in a state takeover of Philadelphia schools in December 2001 with only two goals: get the School District's finances in order and improve students' academic performance. Fourteen years later, it has failed miserably in both regards, though some of its past and current members do deserve an A for effort.
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