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NEWS
September 18, 2013 | By Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer
Parents, educators, and others discussed school safety Monday night, a week after 134,000 students returned to classes in the Philadelphia School District and found fewer counselors, teachers, and support staff. The School Reform Commission's first planning session of the academic year focused on the district's efforts to improve school environments to curb violence. The reported sexual assault of a Morton McMichael School student earlier in the day was not mentioned during the two-hour session.
NEWS
August 24, 2013 | By Martha Woodall and Melissa Dribben, Inquirer Staff Writers
Anger over the Philadelphia School District's funding crisis spilled Thursday from the streets of Center City to district headquarters, where the School Reform Commission held its last scheduled meeting before the start of classes next month. In midafternoon, more than 1,000 protesters, many in red T-shirts and carrying signs and banners, marched from the Comcast Center at 17th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard to the district's offices on North Broad Street. Later, at the meeting inside, parents, students, and teachers told the SRC that they were alarmed by the financial problems and concerned about whether schools could open safely and educate students with fewer staff.
NEWS
August 23, 2013 | BY REGINA MEDINA, Daily News Staff Writer medinar@phillynews.com, 215-854-5985
THE SCHOOL REFORM Commission last night approved license agreements for five Renaissance charter schools, among other resolutions, during its last meeting before the school year begins. There were spirited speeches, a fair share of boos and frustrated audience members carrying posters criticizing the district, and a well-attended protest outside district headquarters, but last night's SRC meeting was more subdued than last week's emergency session, during which the commission unanimously voted to suspend certain sections of the state public-school code.
NEWS
August 16, 2013 | BY REGINA MEDINA, Daily News Staff Writer medinar@phillynews.com, 215-854-5985
IN THE FACE of a fed-up Philadelphia community carrying insulting signs, the School Reform Commission voted unanimously yesterday to suspend school codes that affect employees' seniority rights and wage increases, as well as charter-school growth. The district now will have what it calls "flexibility" to bring back whomever it wants and to "place resources where they are most needed," Superintendent William R. Hite said in his presentation to the SRC. (Members Feather Houstoun and Wendell Pritchett were present by phone.)
NEWS
August 16, 2013 | By Martha Woodall and Amy Worden, Inquirer Staff Writers
With less than 48 hours until the funding deadline set by Philadelphia's schools chief, the School Reform Commission has called a meeting Thursday to consider actions he says will give him more flexibility to run schools whenever they open. Word of the special session came amid signals from city, state, and school officials that they were still working to meet what a Corbett administration aide called Friday's "doable" deadline and open the schools Sept. 9, but they weren't there yet. Because the district is still facing a deficit of more than $270 million and reeling from massive layoffs, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said he would ask the SRC to suspend parts of the state school code dealing with seniority so that employees who are recalled can return to the schools where they worked in June.
NEWS
August 16, 2013 | BY REGINA MEDINA, Daily News Staff Writer medinar@phillynews.com, 215-854-5985
IN RESPONSE to the school-funding crisis, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. says he wants to nix union seniority rules for laying off and rehiring teachers, and to block incremental guaranteed pay hikes. With almost no movement to meet his ultimatum of $50 million in new funding by tomorrow to ensure the safe opening of all schools on time, Hite plans to ask the School Reform Commission to approve the plan at an emergency meeting this afternoon as a way to stretch the district's thin resources.
NEWS
July 28, 2013 | By Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer
The Philadelphia School District will use $33 million in savings and new funding to recall laid-off music teachers and school secretaries, and restore fall sports programs that had been axed. "Now we plan to use the revenue that we believe is available to get schools ready" for opening Sept. 9, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said during a special School Reform Commission meeting Friday. In a sometimes contentious session where commissioners debated the long-term costs, they voted to expand two successful schools, open a new high school, and turn over three chronically low-performing schools to charter-school operators.
NEWS
June 29, 2013 | By Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer
Still facing uncertainty about whether Harrisburg will help the Philadelphia School District fill a $304 million shortfall by July 1, the School Reform Commission took steps Thursday morning to get ready for the new fiscal year. As it does each year in the waning days of June, the commission voted to allow the district to levy its share of city taxes, including real estate, Use and Occupancy, and personal property. The commission also gave the district the ability to impose a $2-per-pack tax on cigarettes - provided the legislature passes the enabling legislation.
NEWS
June 21, 2013 | By Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer
In the face of the Philadelphia School District's fiscal uncertainty, the School Reform Commission on Wednesday night postponed moving forward with plans to turn over three low-performing district schools to charter operators. The commission also renewed the operating agreements for five charter schools because they had agreed to forgo their requests to add students for the 2013-14 academic year. "We have asked everyone to share the sacrifices," said Paul Kihn, deputy superintendent.
NEWS
June 9, 2013 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
BEIJING - The Philadelphia Orchestra was divided but not conquered. The orchestra's 40th anniversary tour of China was moving on to Macau on Friday - its last and glitziest tour stop - when a handful of musicians and orchestra executives on the early-bird flight from Beijing were stuck on the tarmac due to heavy rain. The takeoff was delayed six hours. Nonetheless -. "Our musicians would like to offer you a musical surprise," announced orchestra president Allison Vulgamore to the marooned, disgruntled passengers.
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