What Comes After the SRC If It’s Abolished?

Councilman David Oh's proposed school board would be a hybrid of appointed and elected officials.

oh schools

Left, City Council Flickr. Right, Jeff Fusco.

When education advocates envision a possible replacement for the School Reform Commission, all kinds of ideas are on the table: How about an elected board? An appointed board? Who would do the appointing? How would charter schools be represented?

Councilman David Oh’s answer? Let’s try a little bit of everything.

Oh last week introduced a bill to amend Philadelphia’s city charter to determine the makeup of a city-governed school board. Under the existing charter, the board of education would consist of nine people, all appointed by the mayor.

Oh’s alternative proposal gets complicated. (You can see the full proposal below.) It would have 13 members:

• Two — a business leader and an education leader — appointed by the mayor.
• One from the charter school community, and appointed by the mayor.
• Two members elected at-large by city voters.
• Eight more nominated by an “Educational Nominating Panel.” The mayor would appoint four nominated members to the board — each required to have an advanced degree and at least 10 years experience in education — while City Council would appoint another four. The nominating panel would be required to offer three names for each open spot.

Additionally, the mayor would appoint a school board president.

Oh’s bill would not dissolve the SRC, which is appointed by the state — that decision has to be made by state legislators, or the SRC itself. But Lois Kang, Oh’s director of urban policy and international affairs, noted that recent years have produced a strong push to replace the SRC with a local board.

“There is a strong advocacy for local governance,” she said. “We’re preparing for local governance.”

A spokeswoman for Mayor Jim Kenney said more work is needed. “We believe any change to the district’s governance structure has to include community input and shouldn’t be fully dictated by city government,” Lauren Hitt said.

Kang said the bill is a re-introduction of legislation Oh introduced last year. Since then, she said, a variety of “stakeholders” had been consulted, and would continue to be. Oh’s bill, she said, is a “starting point.”

The legislation has been sent to Council’s Committee on Law and Government.