Philly Schools Are Closed Again Tomorrow

Philadelphia School District Building

Photo by Jeff Fusco

All Philadelphia public schools are closed again tomorrow due to this weekend’s snowstorm.

Not long after the Philadelphia School District announced its decision, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia also announced schools in the city would be closed tomorrow as well.

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It’s So Cold, Two Area Schools Are Closed Today

Alain Locke Elementary. Photo | Google Street View

Alain Locke Elementary. Photo | Google Street View

It’s about 22 degrees in Philadelphia right now. You don’t need me to tell you that this is cold, one of the coldest days yet this winter and one that probably made you shiver on your way out of the house this morning.

Indeed, it’s so cold that two Philadelphia area schools are closing today due to a lack of heat. First is the Alain Locke Elementary School, at 45th and Haverford in West Philadelphia. That school has no heat whatsoever; it was in session this morning, but it dismissed at noon. (Hey, at least the school’s boiler didn’t explode.)

In Bucks County, Truman High School closed at 10 a.m. this morning due to a heating circulator not being repaired. Read more »

America’s Best School District Is in Chester County

Conestoga High School in the Tredyffrin-Easttown School District | Google Street View

Conestoga High School in the Tredyffrin-Easttown School District | Google Street View

Chester County’s Tredyffrin-Easttown School District is the top school district in the country, according to a new ranking from Niche.com.

The ranking was based on district info obtained from the U.S. Department of Education, along with parents and student reviews, as well as other factors.

Here’s Niche’s rundown on the district:

“Tredyffrin-Easttown School District is centered in Tredyffrin Township, Pennsylvania. It has 6,537 students attending 8 schools in grades K-12. According to state standards, 90% of students in this district are considered proficient in math and/or reading. The district has an annual budget of $104,474,000, spending an average of $16,180 per student. There have been 215 reviews written and they have been mostly positive.” Read more »

Lockdown at Radnor H.S. After Bullet Found in Hallway

radnor-400x400Radnor High School was placed on lockdown at 12:30 p.m. today after a bullet was found on campus, a report on the school’s website said. The lockdown was categorized “level 2,” which means there was no direct threat to students.

The school said no danger to teachers or students has been found. K9 units were called in to sweep the school after a 9mm bullet was found in a hallway sometime today. Read more »

District Announces School Closures, Charter Conversions

Philadelphia School District Building

Photo by Jeff Fusco

In a move that will affect more than 5,000 students in the district, Philadelphia Superintendent William R. Hite today announced dramatic changes involving 15 schools.

The moves are a familiar list of school consolidations, charter conversions and closures. Among the actions: Dimner Beeber Middle School in West Philadelphia will be phased out over a two-year period. In Northwest Philly, Morris E. Leeds Middle School and Hill-Freedman World Academy would merge, with Leeds students starting to go to Hill-Freedman. Both Beeber and Leeds, though closed, would still house district schools in their buildings.

“This is an exciting step forward in achieving our mission of having great schools in every neighborhood,” Hite said in a statement. “These recommendations address parental demand for better academic programs in safe, familiar environments while presenting rigorous and engaging opportunities for students.” Read more »

Philly Teachers Case Goes to Pa. Supreme Court

empty classroom

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 »

The Brief: We’ll Soon Know the Names of All Cops Who Shoot Civilians

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. AP | Matt Rourke

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. AP | Matt Rourke

1. The police department is going to start releasing the names of officers who fire at civilians.

The gistCity Paper reports that Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey announced in a memo yesterday that “the department will immediately begin disclosing the names of officers who discharge their firearms in Officer-Involved Shootings ‘within seventy-two (72) hours of the incident.'” According to the memo, this was one of the recommendations made by the U.S. Department of Justice in its scathing report on police shootings in Philadelphia. Also, the department will examine each case to ensure that “no threats are made toward the officer or members of their family prior to the release of this information.” Read more »

Surprise! Philly’s Commercial Property Taxes Are Pretty Damn Low

Photo by James Losey, Creative Commons License

Photo by James Losey, Creative Commons License

Study after study and politician after politician have said that Philadelphia’s taxes are way too high. But a new report by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and the Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence shows that there is at least one exception to that rule.

It found that Philly has among the lowest taxes in the country for small-scale commercial and industrial properties.

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Inside Take: Philly’s Next Great Public Space? Schoolyards.

A vision for the schoolyard at Horatio B. Hackett. | Plan courtesy of Community Design Collaborative.

A vision for the schoolyard at Horatio B. Hackett. | Plan courtesy of Community Design Collaborative.

(This is an opinion column from a Citified insider.)

Over the past seven years, Philadelphians have witnessed a public space renaissance. No longer are apocalyptic Hollywood movies choosing Philadelphia as a backdrop because our physical environment perfectly fits the scene (remember Twelve Monkeys?). Instead, dynamic, transformative public spaces—from Spruce Street Harbor Park, Dilworth Plaza, the Porch at 30th Street, Lovett Park in Mt. Airy, and many others—are reflecting a newfound sense of civic pride.

Now that we have built up in-house expertise in creating truly great public spaces, and developed credibility with public, private and philanthropic funders, we should harness that energy and apply it to what I call Philadelphia’s Public Space Initiative 2.0—the redesign of our public schoolyards. Our schools need to become Philadelphia’s next set of great public spaces. Read more »

In South Jersey, District Instructs Families How to Opt Out of Testing

Via Shutterstock.

Via Shutterstock.

Haddon Township School District isn’t necessarily against PARCC, the highly controversial standardized education assessment that has been adopted by dozens of states nation-wide. But district officials are telling parents how their kids can get out of taking it. And parents opposed to the test are hailing it as a win.

In a letter dated January 26, 2015 (below), District Superintendent Dr. Nancy Ward outlined Haddon Township’s provisions for parents who wish their children to be exempt from the high-stakes exam, which has come under fire by education advocates in other states: Trisha Kocanda, a superintendent outside of Chicago, wrote an open letter on PARCC, which was later published in The Washington Post. In it, Kocanda said she was “wary. We are concerned about the amount of instructional time it will displace, the impact this will have on students, and the usefulness of the results.”

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