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SRC approves building sales, ratifies principals' contract

By Dale Mezzacappa on Mar 20, 2014 10:04 PM
Photo: School District of Philadelphia
The District approved the sale of the University City property to Drexel University City Development for $25 million.

The School Reform Commission approved the sales of six vacant properties Thursday night, most of them schools that were closed within the last two years.

It also ratified a contract with the Commonwealth Association of School Administrators, which represents principals and assistant principals, who will reduce their work year and see lower salaries. 

The properties will be sold for a total of $37 million under the current agreements, but the District will net $25.8 million after closing costs and other costs are taken out, said Fran Burns, the District's operations manager.

The cash-strapped District is counting on netting $61 million from property sales this year, although the city has promised to make up any difference if it doesn't reach that goal.

The biggest parcel approved for sale is the former University City High School and the adjacent Charles Drew Elementary and the Walnut Center, just north of Market Street between 36th and 37th streets. The complex would be sold to Drexel University City Development for $25.1 million.

Two properties will be sold to charter schools: the former Anna Shaw Middle School to Mastery Charter Schools for $2.7 million and the former Stephen Douglas High to Maritime Academy Charter for $2.1 million.

For another closed school, Harrison Elementary, the SRC authorized a $1.4 million agreement of sale with Independence Mission Schools, the foundation that is operating Catholic schools in inner city neighborhoods. Harrison is near the mission school at St. Malachy's parish in North Philadelphia.

Metal Ventures Inc. won approval to buy Childs Elementary School in South Philadelphia for $1.18 million and Orens Brothers was the high bidder, at $4.6 million, for Alexander Wilson in Southwest Philadelphia. 

Two speakers at the meeting criticized the District's handling of the University City sale: Michael Jones of the Powelton Village Civic Association and DeWayne Drummond of the Mantua Civic Association.

Jones said that he found the process "unfathomable" because it included "no input from neighbors," although he was happy that Drexel is buying the property. The university intends to expand Powel Elementary School and include a middle school that adopts the educational model of the successful Science Leadership Academy.

"I'm grateful Drexel ... emerged as the high bidder, but it should not have been an accident," he said.

Drummond said that the Mantua neighborhood was never consulted and lamented the closure of University City High. 

"At no time did the School District invite real conversation from the community," he said. And he said that the District has not tracked where the University City students ended up. "How many are failing, dropped out, incarcerated? ... Does the SRC know?" 

Commissioner Farah Jimenez, who is president of the People's Emergency Center in the same neighborhood, abstained on the vote because her organization will be intimately involved with what happens at the site. She also abstained on two other resolutions involving Mastery because her husband's law firm has represented the organization.

The unanimous vote to approve the principals' contract took place without comment. Principals will become 10-month instead of 12-month employees, cutting their net earnings by about 11 percent, and will start paying toward their health benefits.

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Comments (27)

Submitted by annonym. (not verified) on March 21, 2014 2:58 am
Since Jimenez husband's law firm represents Mastery, she will often have to abstain. How can she vote on anything involving charters when she is connected to their existence/expansion? I assume Corbett knew of her ties when he appointed her to the SRC.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 21, 2014 12:12 pm
Yes -- this will lead to possible tie votes on a number of charter matters. The district has ended up in court over ambiguous SRC voting before too.
Submitted by Lisa Haver on March 21, 2014 8:43 am
A few other issues came up last night. The SRC approved the sale of the schools they closed last year to a charter school franchise, Catholic mission schools, Drexel U and developers. The SRC approved a change in the code regarding turnaround schools. In response to a question from Commissioner Sylvia Simms, Deputy Superintendent Paul Kihn said that parents at schools targeted for takeover could decide whether they wanted to take one of two providers already chosen by the district or to remain a district school. He didn’t specify whether the school would get the same increase in funds if they remained a public school. This could be the SRC’s way of using a “parent trigger” mechanism, rather than citywide community hearings, to increase the number of turnarounds and speed up the process. Green again refused to answer questions from the public, and made a point of telling us before adjournment that the SRC did not have time for that. Two speakers, including me, addressed the issue of the district’s designation of Blaine and W D Kelley elementary schools as “Transformation” schools. There was no explanation of what that term means, or how this happened without community meetings or a vote by the SRC. Last week, APPS members spoke to a number of parents at Blaine, and not one knew that all of the teachers would have to reapply for their jobs or that no more than 50% would be allowed to return. Teachers were not told until Friday March 7. All of this is a result of PSP’s offering each school $1.5 million, initially for the stated purpose of helping each handle increased enrollment after they became receiving schools. The SRC voted last August to accept their down payment of $60K per school. Unless the parents and teachers fight the PSP-sponsored turnaround, which also calls for more principal autonomy, the remaining amount would be approved this summer. As part of my testimony, I read an excerpt from a 2012 Tribune article in which Blaine principal Gianeen Powell said that the dedication of the Blaine teachers “…both professionally and personally…” was the reason for the school’s success. Begging the questions: if the school is successful, why does it need to be turned around by PSP; and why such great teachers would now be told to get out.
Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on March 21, 2014 8:31 am
If it doesn't get reported, then they hope the public will not know what is happening. To the extent the Notebook does not report fully on what happens at SRC meetings, it is crucial that advocates such as yourself do. Thank you Ms. Haver.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on March 21, 2014 10:35 am
The issue I have raised, from the attorney side of my brain, and my belief that we should be acting in the best interests of our students and the common good is this -- exactly whose name are those schools going to be titled to on the deeds? Who, or what entity will now own them and will "the public" now have to pay rent for those schools which will be owned by private businesses hiding behind the charter school veil. That was a theme of my speech to Auditor General DePasquale and his team at his hearings on charter school transparency and accountability last week. Stated in SRC resolution A-9, Stephen Douglass H.S. is being sold to Maritme Academy Charter School. Is the deed going into that name or has, the lawyer CEO, created a "side entity" to filter money onto his private pockets? SRC resolution A-11 states that Shaw Middle School will be sold to Mastery Charter Schools. But then, also authorizes the School district to execute an Agreement of Sale for the sale of the property to Mastery Charter Schools "or their affiliate." Who is 'their affiliate?" These are games which are being played by operators who wish to "privatize our schools" and "profitize our schools" which are supposed to be "public schools." What is going on is part and parcel of the "privatization game." Keep your eyes open folks. Be a student of the game. It is all about, and only about -- money and self-dealing.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 21, 2014 12:13 pm
I was very surprised to read about Maritime Academy. They had enrollment difficulties a few years back, so I was surprised to hear that they had this kind of money to spend.
Submitted by Annonym. (not verified) on March 21, 2014 1:14 pm
Maybe the Philadelphia School Dictatorship is funding their expansion...
Submitted by West Philly (not verified) on March 21, 2014 9:13 am
It was originally stated that Drexel University and Developers purchased the University High School Bundle for $35 Million. When all bills are paid due to this sale, the School District will walk away with less than $10 Million. Will the School District pay rent to Drexel for the school or schools that will reside on this property?
Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on March 21, 2014 1:47 pm
Where is the $70 million Darrell Clarke said was in the big. Or is $25 million equal to that in his world
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 21, 2014 1:24 pm
Jerry Jordan personally is responsible for many lost SDP union jobs by his lack of knowing what a union leader does -represent his members and not being a wimp to the District leaders for years. All the jobs Jordan lost by not getting it in writing to make sure all Renaissance schools were union jobs. PFT would have had no layoffs or all the forced transfers, if Jordan didn't give up Renaissance schools to non-union jobs. That was over 2000 jobs. One of the article's stating this is below. April 15, 2010 | Filed under: Latest News | Posted by: editor @pr BY TONY WEST/ The Renaissance Schools plan Jerry Jordan got isn’t the plan he was expecting. "The president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers was notified last summer of the School District’s campaign to shake up several poorly-rated schools. However, he said, when Superintendent Arlene Ackerman announced the official fate of 14 schools on Mar. 30, it was far more drastic than he had been led to believe. “We were told all along that 14 schools would be ‘Renaissance-eligible,’ but that the School District intended to take on only three or four schools the first time around,” Jordan said. “We were told all these schools would follow the ‘Promise Academy’ model, administered by the School District, and none would become charter schools just yet.” In fact, Ackerman chose to take over all 14 schools. Five of them will be made into Promise Academies, with new administrations and staffs, and special flexibility in programming – but staying under Ackerman’s control, with PFT’s teachers. But the other nine will be outsourced to “turnaround teams” – outside managers, some who have made public-school interventions in other cities and some who have started charter schools here in Philadelphia. All those teaching jobs will fall out of PFT’s jurisdiction now. If Jordan had known his union would take such a big hit, he stated, he would never have negotiated the labor agreement in January 2010 which permitted it." Email Jordan and let him know to wake up and stop the hemorrhaging with union jobs in the SDP.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on March 21, 2014 3:04 pm
OK---------I'll say it again..................Act 46 must be challenged or all is lost within a couple years, 3 on the outside. Really, is there anything left to lose??? Worst case scenario and it MAY come to this, strike and force Corbett and Nutter to lock up 11,000 teachers for demanding their civil and worker rights in a democracy. What's the alternative ?? To let Hite and Billy Green just continue to ignore all sense of fair play and stomp the PFT into either oblivion or as with CASA, a company union, meaningless with no power at all ?? Hopefully, Jerry Jordan still has cards to play including the big one above.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 11, 2014 6:57 pm
Would the police union lock them up? I would appeal to the them first and then strike. A strike has to happen.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on April 12, 2014 9:57 am
Horribly, in Wisconsin, Walker ordered the cops to arrest the protesters and they did though apparently reluctantly. Hard to Believe that we're approaching Nazi Germany behavior again, especially here.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 21, 2014 1:35 pm
What the heck is Metal Ventures Inc. going to do with Childs? What is the proposed reuse?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 22, 2014 1:21 am
Did part of my dissertation at could eat off the floor over there and the school was doing was closed for "varied reasons' but the main one is selling the property.....the SDP should have closed another school that was not doing well by the "varied reasons" standard and left Childs alone. Linda K.
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