District officials are genuinely listening to what the public has to say about their proposal to close nine schools, Deputy for Strategic Initiatives Danielle Floyd told the School Reform Commission on Friday.
Since announcing a package of 31 facilities recommendations last month, the District has so far hosted six community meetings. Already, said Floyd, public input gathered during the meetings has made a difference.
The tears fell freely at Julia de Burgos Elementary School Tuesday night.
During the fifth of 17 community meetings on the School District of Philadelphia’s facilities master plan, a flood of over 150 supporters of Sheppard Elementary implored District officials to reconsider their recommendation to close the tiny K-4 school in Kensington. Located just a few blocks away from de Burgos, Sheppard is one of nine schools the District has targeted for closure by 2014.
Isaac A. Sheppard Elementary School, now 114 years old, could be living out its final days.
A tiny K-4 elementary school at Howard and Cambria in the heart of one Philadelphia's toughest neighborhoods, Sheppard is one of nine schools slated for closure as part of the School District's facilities master plan. At a Tuesday community meeting, District officials
will make made their case for closing the ancient building and reassigning its students, prompting a huge outpouring of emotion from Sheppard supporters.
[Updated 12/9 with clarification on Girard-diCarlo resignation]
If only rubber stamps were so reliable.
According to a Notebook/NewsWorks review of more than 1,500 SRC votes between October 2009 and August 2011, the recent iteration of the School District’s powerful five-member city-state governing board voted unanimously in favor of a whopping 98 percent of the resolutions that came before it for a vote. Only seven resolutions that came up for a vote failed to pass.
During the first of 17 community meetings on their plan, they got an earful.
Despite encouraging signs of progress in their first cohort of 13 Renaissance Schools, District officials are not yet sure if they will attempt to turn around more low-performing public schools next year.
Thomas Darden, the District's deputy chief of strategic programs, said that “no decision has been made yet” about whether to hand more struggling public schools over to outside managers for conversion to charters.
The Pennsylvania Senate is set to consider Gov. Tom Corbett's nomination of Pedro Ramos to the Philadelphia School Reform Commission - finally.
The office Senate Education Committee chairman Jeffrey Piccola said that a hearing should occur sometime Monday afternoon.
On March 17, 2010, 18 people showed up at the School Reform Commission’s public session to decry the District’s handling of a daylong series of attacks on Asian students at South Philadelphia High three months earlier.
Before the public comment period began, then-Chairman Robert Archie read a prepared statement. After the students and their supporters testified, former Commissioner Johnny Irizarry asked a few questions. And that was as far as the SRC would go in publicly sharing their thoughts on the episode.
Last week, the three current commissioners set out to show that they’re serious about walking the talk.
Over the course of five remarkable days last week, Philadelphia’s recently overhauled School Reform Commission set out to show that it’s serious about becoming more transparent.
In addition to granting a Notebook/NewsWorks reporter and photographer unprecedented access to one of the commission’s executive sessions and releasing a collection of confidential documents, new interim SRC Chair Wendell Pritchett agreed to a request for an extensive sit-down interview, his first as a commissioner.
View an interactive map of the District's facilities recommendations.
[UPDATED Thursday a.m.] After months of speculation that dozens of schools across the city could be shut down, District officials have recommended to the School Reform Commission that just nine schools be closed by 2014.
The recommendations come as part of a package of facilities changes that District officials say will reduce their excess capacity by 14,000 seats – a far cry from the target of 40,000 seats they had earlier set.
“The path we’re taking, we think fits the times that we’re in,” said Acting Superintendent Leroy Nunery.
Eight months after they announced their plans to close a staggering $600-plus million budget hole and three months after the departure of former superintendent Arlene Ackerman, District officials say they are still finalizing a new organizational chart.
In the meantime, the District has released an updated listing of names and titles for its executive team and assistant superintendents:
[Updated 10:30 pm] There was more bleak budget news at Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission (SRC) meeting Wednesday.
Presenting a first-quarter financial report, District Chief Financial Officer Michael Masch announced almost $17 million in possible new cuts, then said there’s still another $22 million left to go. In this latest round, school budgets could be chopped by another one percent – or an average of about $40,000 per school.
Across the city, it's a big week for helping Philadelphia students get to college:
UPDATE: According to state Sen. Dominic Pileggi, Senate Bill 1 is on Wednesday's Senate agenda.
School vouchers have taken another step forward in Pennsylvania.
And they're taking charter school reform with them.
On Tuesday, an amended version of Senate Bill 1, as the measure is known, was approved by the Senate Education Committee. The new plan calls for a limited school voucher program, as well as a package of changes to state charter school law that had been advancing separately, reports Mary Wilson of WHYY/NewsWorks.