A Second-Grader Brought a Loaded Glock to School Today

iStockphoto.com | RonBailey

iStockphoto.com | RonBailey

A second grade student at Grover Cleveland Mastery Charter found a surprise in his book bag when he got to school this morning: a fully-loaded Glock.

A police source told Philadelphia magazine that a relative allegedly stuck the weapon in the little boy’s bag for reasons that are thus far unclear. The child didn’t realize the weapon was lurking in his school bag until he got into his classroom.  Read more »

Activists: Uber and Lyft Tax Should Fund Philly Schools, Not the PPA

Hannah Sassaman of the Media Mobilizing Project address the Parking Authority. Photo by Jared Brey.

Hannah Sassaman of the Media Mobilizing Project addresses the Parking Authority. | Photo by Jared Brey

Public school advocates packed the Philadelphia Parking Authority’s monthly board meeting on Tuesday to question a change in a state bill that would allow ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft to operate in Philadelphia — and drive a guaranteed fee to the PPA with little or nothing left for the school district.

Philly Mag reported on Monday that the state bill was initially written so that the school district and PPA would share a 1 percent tax on ride-sharing revenues, with two-thirds going to the district and one-third to the PPA. But a version approved by a state House committee earlier in May changed those provisions so that the PPA would be guaranteed a $2 million yearly fee from each of the largest ride-sharing companies, while the schools would get a portion of what’s left over. According to current estimates of how much revenue the tax would generate, it’s unlikely that there would be much, if any, money left for the schools.

“There is no place in this world wherein a new revenue stream should go to the Parking Authority ahead of the school district,” Councilwoman Helen Gym told the board Tuesday morning. Read more »

“Tax” on Uber and Lyft Would Actually Be a $4 Million Windfall to the PPA

uber-PPA-940x540First it looked like it was for the kids, and now it looks like it’s for the Parking Authority.

A bill in the state Senate that would allow alternative taxi services like Uber and Lyft to operate legally was initially written so that the tax revenue the services generated in Philly would be split between the Philadelphia Parking Authority and the Philadelphia School District, with two thirds of the money going to education. But the bill, which was approved by the state House Committee on Consumer Affairs earlier this month, has undergone an obscure but meaningful change. In the current version, PPA is guaranteed $4 million in revenue from Uber and Lyft before the schools can collect a dime. Read more »

Helen Gym Calls for Investigation of School Police Use of Force

Stills from the original video posted on Facebook by the Philadelphia Student Union.

Stills from the original video posted on Facebook by the Philadelphia Student Union.

Councilwoman Helen Gym sent a letter on Tuesday to the School District and the School Reform Commission calling for an investigation of an incident at Benjamin Franklin High School last week in which a student accused a school police officer of assault. The officer was filmed restraining the student, sparking condemnation on social media. A spokesman for the District told Philly Mag last week that the incident is being investigated, and that the officer had been reassigned.  Read more »

Council: Why Did $1.3 Million for School Nurses Go Unspent?

Photo | It's Our City via Flickr / Creative Commons

Photo | It’s Our City via Flickr / Creative Commons

The Philadelphia School District has a modest fund balance this year, meaning for the first time in recent memory it spent less money than it budgeted.

But that’s the result of “bad savings,” Councilwoman Helen Gym said during City Council’s hearings on the District’s budget Tuesday. It’s not that the district just managed its money well; instead, it failed to spend budgeted money on basic services, Gym said. That includes a gap of $1.3 million budgeted but not spent on school nurses, $4 million on maintenance and repair, and $2 million on special education bus attendants. In all, the district saved $65 million through staff vacancies and deferred maintenance, Gym pointed out. Read more »

Rob Wasserman’s Burger Brawl Hasn’t Donated Nearly as Much Money to Schools as He’s Said it Has

Photo by HughE Dillon

Rob Wasserman | Photo by HughE Dillon

Restaurateur Rob Wasserman is best known as the owner of Rouge, the legendary Rittenhouse Square boîte that Neil Stein opened in 1998 and which Wasserman bought 10 years ago. But in recent years, Wasserman decided to add philanthropist to his business card, and Philadelphia magazine has learned that there is trouble in that department. Read more »

Moody’s Offers Negative Outlook on School District Debt

Photo | It's Our City via Flickr / Creative Commons

Photo | It’s Our City via Flickr / Creative Commons

The Philadelphia School District is more financially stable than it’s been in a while, but there are still plenty of problems.

That’s the assessment from Moody’s, which last week affirmed its negative outlook on the $3.1 billion in outstanding debt.

“We are working to achieve and present a stabilized budget and long term fiscal plan,” Supt. William Hite said in a press release issued today, “and it is important that independent reviewers like Moody’s are recognizing our efforts.” Read more »

PA Pols Want to Stop Locking Up Parents of Truant Students

Photo | It's Our City via Flickr / Creative Commons

Photo | It’s Our City via Flickr / Creative Commons

Is pressing charges against the parent of a habitually truant student a good idea?

State Sen. Vincent Hughes has a simple three-word answer: “Oh hell no.”

Hughes and a number of Democratic and Republican state senators are trying to remove that option from the table with a Senate bill that could overhaul the way schools address truancy across Pennsylvania. Read more »

Bill Hite Has the Hardest Job in the Country

Photograph by Justin James Muir.

Photograph by Justin James Muir.

On the third Thursday of every month, William Hite is subjected to four hours of ritual torture.

The sessions take place in an auditorium at the headquarters of the School District of Philadelphia, on North Broad Street. Starting around 5:30 p.m., several hundred education obsessives march in and locate seats. Sometimes they bring musical instruments. Hite sits at the front of the room next to the five members of the School Reform Commission, Philadelphia’s peculiar version of a school board. Well-built, impeccably dressed, perfectly composed, Philly’s school superintendent awaits the onslaught. Read more »

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