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Hite to propose changing, but not canceling Source4Teachers contract

By David Limm on Nov 19, 2015 01:26 PM

In an email to School District employees Thursday, Superintendent William Hite again acknowledged the failure by staffing firm Source4teachers to adequately fill the District's substitute vacancies and described a few planned changes in the Cherry Hill-based firm's contract to be considered at Thursday's School Reform Commission meeting.

"Without a doubt, our efforts this year to ramp up substitute teacher recruitment and hiring by contracting with Source4Teachers (S4T) have not worked as anticipated," Hite said.

Pa. high schools get their grades

By David Limm on Nov 4, 2015 06:06 PM

High schools received their grades Wednesday as the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) released the School Performance Profile scores that it uses to rate schools, along with results on the Keystone Exams.

The state's school accountability system provides a snapshot of student achievement and growth that takes into account numerous measures, with most of the weight going to standardized test scores.

Plaintiffs in school funding case file brief in Pa. Supreme Court

By David Limm on Sep 22, 2015 03:41 PM

Lawyers for plaintiffs in a case seeking to overturn Pennsylvania's system of funding schools as unconstitutional filed a brief with state Supreme Court on Friday.

The case, brought by several school districts, parents, and groups, was dismissed in April by Commonwealth Court judges, who ruled that school funding -- how much money is spent on education and how it is distributed -- is a matter for the state's legislative and executive branches to decide.

Nonrenewal hearing for a Renaissance charter

By David Limm on Sep 16, 2015 02:06 PM

Update: The School District announced Wednesday afternoon that the hearing on nonrenewal of Universal Bluford Academy will be rescheduled for October. A date has not been set.

A nonrenewal hearing will be held this week for one of the city's first schools to be "Renaissanced" under the District's turnaround model that converts neighborhood schools to charters.

On Sept. 17 and 18, the School Reform Commission will conduct a public hearing on the District's recommendation to begin nonrenewal proceedings for Universal Bluford Charter School, a K-6 school in West Philadelphia. Last year, the school enrolled 600 students.

District's bid to outsource substitute teachers falters

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Sep 11, 2015 10:43 PM

Editor's note

The Philadelphia School District's push to outsource substitute teaching services has thus far been a major disappointment.

The Cherry Hill-based Source4Teachers promised to fill 90 percent of absences, but its rate through the first week of school hasn't come close.

Waiver means no ratings for many Pa. schools this year

By David Limm on Sep 8, 2015 05:15 PM

After steep statewide drops in test scores that resulted from overhauled PSSA exams, Pennsylvania has been granted a one-year break from giving all schools an annual performance grade. 

Two more Philly educators disciplined in cheating investigation

By David Limm on Jul 23, 2015 03:55 PM

Two more Philadelphia educators have been disciplined in the multiyear investigation into cheating on the state's standardized tests.

Darlynn L. Gray, 54, a former principal of Delaplaine McDaniel Elementary School, and Ellen Berson, 45, a former assistant principal at McDaniel, surrendered their educator's licenses earlier this year. 

They are alleged to have "violated the integrity and security of the PSSA exams," according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education's list of teacher certification actions. 

SLA's Lehmann named to head innovative schools network

By David Limm on Jul 8, 2015 01:08 PM

Science Leadership Academy's nationally recognized founder and principal, Chris Lehmann, has been named to lead the School District's innovative schools network. In addition to his new role as an assistant superintendent, Lehmann will remain principal at SLA, though he will share his duties with a new co-principal.

Promise Zone grant to help West Philly students with college and career

By David Limm on Jul 7, 2015 01:50 PM

Philadelphia and Los Angeles, two cities with designated federal Promise Zones, will share a $650,000 grant to train AmeriCorps members to boost the college and career readiness of disadvantaged youth.

Brush up on your knowledge of school funding in Pa.

By David Limm on Jul 2, 2015 01:50 PM

The ongoing budget stalemate in Harrisburg has left school districts across Pennsylvania in the dark about how much state money they'll be getting. 

With a new governor, a new proposed funding formula, and constant disagreement about how schools should be funded, lots of changes are afoot in Pennsylvania's education system. 

As we head into the July 4th weekend, why not take some time to brush up on the ABCs and XYZs of education funding in Pennsylvania? Below are 14 pieces, most including a podcast, that NewsWorks and the Notebook put together for Multiple Choices, a series that explains the major aspects of the state's complex, puzzling, and unequal education funding system.

State can't dismiss complaints filed by Philly school parents

By David Limm on Jun 19, 2015 05:11 PM

Commonwealth Court has ruled that the state cannot dismiss complaints about inadequate conditions in Philadelphia District schools that opened and operated under a "doomsday budget" adopted in 2013, if they pertain to curriculum flaws.

Group asks state Supreme Court to hear school funding case

By David Limm on May 20, 2015 04:15 PM

Several school districts, parents, and groups have taken a lawsuit alleging Pennsylvania's school funding system to be unconstitutional to the state Supreme Court.

An appeal filed Wednesday by the plaintiffs seeks to force the state's highest court to hear a case dismissed last month by Commonwealth Court. In that decision, the court ruled, as it has in prior lawsuits, that the question of school funding and what level of it is constitutional is a matter for the state legislature to decide.

'Achievement school district' bill is an unfunded mandate, says Hite

By David Limm and Dale Mezzacappa on May 13, 2015 01:12 PM


Superintendent William Hite sought Wednesday to dissuade legislators from passing a bill that would create an "achievement school district" to turn around the state's struggling schools.

Testifying in front of the Senate's education committee, Hite called the draft of the bill, sponsored by Sen. Lloyd Smucker, a blow to Philadelphia.

"Senate Bill 6 would create an unfunded turnaround mandate, resulting in the stripping out of supports and programs from schools left under local district control," he said.

Schools set two budgets for two futures

By David Limm on Apr 23, 2015 04:25 PM

Philadelphia schools can bear no more cuts, said Superintendent William Hite earlier this week.

It's positive news, then, that the School District of Philadelphia projects to end the year with a small surplus and expects to gain sorely needed resources next year, should city and state proposals hold up, according to budget documents.

District begins Round 2 of plan to reinvent neighborhood schools

By David Limm on Apr 20, 2015 04:48 PM

For a second year, the District is inviting proposals from schools and their communities to overhaul neighborhood schools and reinvent high schools.

Monday's announcement marks the kick-off of Round 2 of the District's efforts to remake the city's neighborhood schools into appealing, cutting-edge options tailored to Philadelphia's mostly high-needs students.

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