IN THE NEWS

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NEWS
September 19, 2014 | BY CHRIS BRENNAN, Daily News Staff Writerbrennac@phillynews.com, 215-854-5973
You know that non-binding ballot referendum City Council approved Thursday to ask voters if the School Reform Commission should be abolished? Don't count on seeing it on the Nov. 4 general election ballot. The deadline to get the measure, sponsored by City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, placed on the ballot passed on Monday. The City Commission, which runs elections in the city, yesterday mailed out absentee ballots, military ballots and ballots for civilians overseas. The question is not on those ballots.
NEWS
September 19, 2014 | BY SOLOMON LEACH, Daily News Staff Writer leachs@phillynews.com, 215-854-5903
THE SCHOOL Reform Commission yesterday approved the sale of 11 vacant school buildings for $14.2 million and amended the sale agreement for the former West Philadelphia High School. Ten of the buildings approved for sale yesterday were closed last year because of declining enrollment, including the former Germantown High, Bok Technical High and Vare Elementary. The buyers include the Philadelphia Housing Authority and the Concordia Group, a Washington-based real-estate-development firm.
NEWS
September 13, 2014 | By Claudia Vargas, Inquirer Staff Writer
  Gov. Corbett might not get the memo after all. Despite 40,000 signatures on a petition from school reform advocates and a morning rally outside City Hall, Philadelphia City Council on Thursday killed an effort that would have asked the governor to dissolve the School Reform Commission. In its first meeting since returning from summer recess, Council introduced a flurry of bills but also passed on some legislation left over from the spring term, including a resolution to put a question on the November ballot asking voters if they support abolishing the SRC and returning schools to local control.
NEWS
July 11, 2014 | By Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer
Being a school reform commissioner was often a tough job, Wendell Pritchett said - a lot of hard decisions, endless meetings with people yelling, and never enough money. So he seized any chance to meet with some of the 131,500 students who attend city public schools. "Whenever we interacted with kids in the School District, it was really heartening. We have amazing kids," said Pritchett, who resigned from his School Reform Commission seat last week. "But it was also disheartening, because we're not serving them well.
NEWS
July 5, 2014 | By Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer
In a surprise move, Wendell Pritchett resigned Thursday from the School Reform Commission, citing frustration with and fear for the state of public education in Philadelphia. He will be replaced by Marjorie Neff, who until June was principal of Masterman, the city's top magnet school. Neff spent 38 years as a teacher and principal and was the first Philadelphia School District educator to ever serve on the SRC. Pritchett, a well-regarded academic who was the longest-serving member of the commission, said the SRC's job had essentially become figuring out which from a menu of bad options will cause the least damage to city students.
NEWS
July 2, 2014 | BY SOLOMON LEACH, Daily News Staff Writer leachs@phillynews.com, 215-854-5903
WITH STATE funding still up in the air, the School Reform Commission last night unanimously adopted a $2.6 billion budget that assumes additional support from the state to prevent making devastating cuts - although the pain may only be delayed. The district's budget includes a "placeholder" for $93 million in additional revenue from the state to close the district's budget shortfall - a move urged by Mayor Nutter in a letter to commissioners yesterday - but that money is far from certain.
NEWS
July 2, 2014 | By Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer
Gambling on ongoing budget negotiations in Harrisburg, the School Reform Commission on Monday night adopted a $2.6 billion budget with a gigantic question mark. The placeholder spending plan means the Philadelphia School District will not need to lay off 1,300 workers or swell class sizes to 40 and beyond - yet. But it contains a $93 million gap that needs to be filled either with revenue or, if state legislators do not come through, cuts. The reductions, including the layoffs, bigger class sizes, and fewer student supports and security measures, would leave the district in such rough shape that schools might not open as planned on Sept.
NEWS
June 21, 2014 | By Kristen A. Graham and Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writers
The former William Penn High School, a sprawling structure on North Broad Street, was permanently closed by the School Reform Commission on Thursday night and sold to Temple University for $15 million. Part of the property will be razed and turned into athletic fields and recreation space for Temple students. The school building fronting Broad Street will remain, and will house a job-training academy run by the Laborers' District Council Education and Training/Apprenticeship Fund.
NEWS
June 13, 2014 | BY JENNY DeHUFF, Daily News Staff Writer dehuffj@phillynews.com, 215-854-5218
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.
NEWS
June 2, 2014 | By Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer
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?
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