Updated | 3:25 p.m.
The School District announced 342 layoffs Thursday, most of them noontime aides and special-education classroom assistants.
But the total also includes eight assistant principals, three conflict-resolution specialists, and 15 assistants in Head Start classrooms.
District spokeswoman Raven Hill said that these layoffs were mostly the result of budget decisions made by principals and are not related to the 1,300 layoffs that may be necessary if the legislature fails to give final approval to a cigarette tax to raise funds for the District.
In my twenty-four years as a school nurse, I’ve called quite a few parents about all sorts of problems. There was the boy who dislocated his shoulder while hanging from the doorjamb and the boy who fractured his jaw. There was the little girl with the 104-degree temperature and the girl with the nosebleed we simply could not stop. I’ve called about seizures, asthma attacks, and lacerations needing stitches. Each time I’ve called the parent- even if I’ve called 911- I try to reassure the parents by saying, “Your baby is OK, but I’ve called 911 because….”
The legal battle over whether Philadelphia's School Reform Commission has the power to unilaterally impose new work rules on the District's teachers is getting more intense with the filing of new arguments urging quick action by the Supreme Court.
In a friend-of-the-court brief filed Friday, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) maintains that "the collective bargaining agreement ... has proven a particularly high barrier to the District effecting reforms essential to providing services in a fiscally responsible and manageable manner."
Response to Oct. 17 news post “SRC rejects plan to sell off art.”
The SRC is to be commended for voting not to sell the artwork which was, for all intents and purposes, stolen from District schools. [Former Superintendent] Paul Vallas and [former SRC Chair] James Nevels had no right to take it, and the way they did it was just plain ugly. They never told anyone – not even the principals – what they were about to do.
by Isaac Riddle
Protesting further losses in staff and resources to their school, around 200 students from Constitution High School staged a “sit-in” in front of their school’s entrance early Wednesday morning.
The school's staff was informed Monday during an emergency meeting that $90,000 would be trimmed from the school’s budget, according to Kathleen Melville, an English and Spanish teacher at Constitution, a citywide admission school in Center City. The reduction is a result of leveling, the District's process of reassigning teachers about six weeks into the school year, based on actual enrollments at that time.
Students at Constitution, however, feel their school already lacks an adequate number of teachers and staff.
by Bill Hangley Jr.
While Michelle Rhee was praising Philadelphia’s efforts to restructure public education, union and community advocates gathered across town to warn of a slow-brewing disaster behind the scenes.
“We can’t sit and say this has been a great opening,” said Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. “We all know that the resources in our classrooms in June were not adequate. And to have them reduced even more is not acceptable.”
Advocates acknowledged that the first days of classes were marred by only a few clearly problematic public incidents, such as the reported sexual assault of a 12-year-old student walking to school in Mantua.
But inside school buildings, they said, classes are overcrowded, staff is overstretched, and students will eventually pay the price.
Any 4th graders going back to David Hensel’s class in Taggart Elementary School to retrieve something they forgot might have seen an odd sight last year: “Mr. Hensel” on his knees poking at a wall outlet with tweezers.
“I was trying to pull out the phone jacks,” Hensel said. “I was told there was only one person in the District who could do it. The Internet was down in my classroom all last year. It was really frustrating.”
While today’s news headlines talk of massive budget cuts making schools almost unrecognizable when they open, teachers and administrators at several schools say that the last two or three years are already an object lesson in what happens when schools try to operate with a skeleton staff.
As the Philadelphia School District prepared to open for the 2013-14 school year, teachers scoured for usable desks that they could stuff into classrooms with, in some cases, 40 or more students.
Some even contemplated bringing in spare chairs from home.
by Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks
With classes set to begin Monday morning, here's the on-the-ground view of what life in a traditional Philadelphia public school looks like:
Fewer staff. More students. Basic supplies at a premium. Money for discretionary spending non-existent.
For a school district that's closed 24 schools and shed 3,000 staffers over the past few months, it's the most contentious school opening in recent memory.
One day this week, Kristin Luebbert leaned over the copy machine at the Bache-Martin School in the city's Fairmount section, making duplicates of her first-day-of-school icebreaker.
As the School District secured the first installments of desperately needed new revenue this summer, one of the first steps taken was to rehire one secretary for each of the 213 schools -- a recognition of the vital role they play in school operations. The cost was $17.6 million.
As schools prepare to open for staff members on Tuesday and for students on Sept. 9, those secretaries are back on the job. The District has estimated that three-fourths of schools saw the return of one of the secretaries from last year.
"It’s based on seniority," said Robert McGrogan, who heads the principals' union, CASA. "The most senior got to stay at their home school."