The School Reform Commission and Philadelphia Federation of Teachers will duke it out before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court over whether the SRC has the power to unilaterally make changes to teachers’ benefits.
The case springs from the SRC’s effort last October to cancel the PFT’s contract and require members to pay a portion of their own health care insurance, a measure imposed with bargaining at at impasse. A lower court in January overturned that effort. The appeal has now reached the state’s top court. Read more »
Photograph by Claudia Gavin
The School District of Philadelphia has been beset in recent years by both financial and academic challenges. It seems to me you have the most difficult job in town.
Definitely the most difficult volunteer position in town.
Why did you volunteer?
You know, there are times when I ask myself, “Why am I doing this?” But I also believe that just because something’s hard doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, if you think it’s right.
The perception is that you ascended to the SRC chair in part because you voted against the charter expansion.
That might’ve been the perception, but that was not the reality. The Governor asked me to do this. We didn’t talk about charter schools before or after as part of his decision-making process. Read more »
(Editor’s note: This is an opinion column from a Citified insider.)
Here’s a not-so-bold prediction: Within the next 6 months, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers will have a new contract.
This prognostication stems from two people: Governor Tom Wolf, who put forth an audacious plan to fund Philadelphia’s schools, and Marge Neff, Chair of the School Reform Commission. The dismal economic situation of the district may not have changed. But with Wolf and Neff in place, the plan now seems to be “find a contract that brings stability to schools” instead of the Tom Corbett — Bill Green playbook of “drown the PFT in its own blood and dance on the corpse.”
It’s likely the two sides will find middle ground. In the meantime, Philadelphia will be inundated with hot-takes on things like “winners and losers”. In the end, the vast majority of people with opinions about the contract, and yes, this includes teachers, won’t have read the document.
What they’ll miss, what most people miss, is that the so-called “big issues” of the contract are neither big nor issues. Here is a Cliff Notes look at three of the most common/lazy complaints about the contract, not one of which is near as important as critics imagine. Read more »
The School Reform Commission on Thursday adopted a $2.86 billion “lump sum” budget for the 2015-16 school year, providing the fiscal outlines for leaders as they begin to work on the details of that budget.
The outline — approved unanimously by the commission — assumes that the state and city will step forward with a combined $264 million in new revenues for the year, officials said — subtract an $80 million deficit now expected during the school year and the city’s public schools would still be left $180 million with which to make new investments. But individual schools are being told for now to create a “status quo” budget in case those funds don’t materialize. Read more »
School districts across Pennsylvania have felt the impact of state budget cuts and the expiration of federal stimulus dollars over the past few years.
But the money woes of the high-poverty Philadelphia School District have been so extreme that they’ve garnered national attention: Some city schools lack such basics as full-time guidance counselors and nurses.
A new analysis shows that, despite the fact that low-income students come to class with greater needs than their better-off peers, Pennsylvania and its municipalities actually spend less per pupil in the poorest districts than in the richest ones. Way less, actually. According to the Washington Post, “In Pennsylvania, per-pupil spending in the poorest school districts is 33 percent lower than per-pupil spending in the wealthiest school districts.”
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Protesters carried signs outside the Feb. 18 SRC meeting. Inside, those signs were confiscated. Photo | Holly Otterbein
Three women identified as former Philadelphia school teachers are suing the School Reform Commission, saying they were deprived of First Amendment rights when they had signs and posters confiscated during the SRC’s controversial meeting February 18th to discuss approval of charter schools. Read more »
Nelson Diaz at his campaign launch. | Photo from Diaz’s Facebook page.
Mayoral candidate Nelson Diaz is proposing to scrap the School Reform Commission and replace it with a parent-led school board to make major decisions for the Philadelphia school district.
Diaz pitched the idea at a meeting of Pennsylvania House Democrats Monday at Warren G. Harding Middle School, NewsWorks reports. Read more »
Bill Green, last week at district headquarters after Gov. Wolf removed him from the SRC chairmanship.
Bill Green said this afternoon he will not mount a legal challenge to Gov. Wolf’s dismissal of him as chair of the School Reform Commission, saying he did not want to undermine support for the Philadelphia School District. But he said he still believes Wolf overstepped his authority in removing him from the chair and replacing him with fellow SRC member Marjorie Neff.
“Lawsuits can wait,” Green said in a press release. “Harmony needs to prevail.” Read more »
Matt Rourke | AP
Mayor Michael Nutter proposed a budget Thursday that would total $3.95 billion, expand the use of police body cameras, most likely eliminate the need for a tuition hike next year at the Community College of Philadelphia, and increase spending on the city’s long-underfunded Licenses & Inspections department.
But all eyes went to only one part of his plan: a 9.3 percent increase in property taxes. Nutter wants to use that to give $105 million to the city’s cash-strapped schools.
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Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled a big, bold budget proposal on Tuesday, just as expected. It has a little something for everyone to love and hate. (You can read Wolf’s full address, and see what Twitter has to say about the plan, here.)
Here are the highlights:
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