June 13, 2014 |
ACCUSING THE SCHOOL DISTRICT of "foot dragging" when it comes to supporting itself financially, City Council members gave school officials a finger-wagging yesterday before voting to lend them a helping hand. City Council's Committee on Finance approved a Hail Mary $27 million in short-term borrowing for the school district to pay its bills by June 30 - the end of the fiscal year. But that number fell short of what district officials had hoped for, a loan of $55 million - the maximum amount allowed by the quasi-government Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp.
June 2, 2014 |
As the deadline for the Philadelphia School District to adopt a budget approached, its leaders gathered in a room to brainstorm: What could they do to make the numbers work? What solutions were open to them to avoid 1,000 layoffs, jamming 41 children into each classroom, and further cutting supports for needy students? "Frankly, there weren't any," School Reform Commission Chairman Bill Green said, recalling a conversation he and other top officials had recently. Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. was the first to make the suggestion - what if the SRC didn't pass a $2.4 billion budget by May 31, the date the city's charter says a spending plan must be adopted?
June 1, 2014 |
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.
May 31, 2014 |
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.
May 30, 2014 |
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.
May 29, 2014 |
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.
May 18, 2014 |
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.
May 2, 2014 |
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.
April 27, 2014 |
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.