Morning Headlines: Court Shatters SRC Authority

The Scoop: Plus, will beer be sold soon in Pennsylvania convenience stores?

School District of Philadelphia

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Good morning Philadelphia. This is what you need to know today:

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court just shattered the School Reform Commission’s most extraordinary power.

The court, in a 4-2 vote, said Tuesday the SRC’s power to suspend state education laws — a power granted by the Legislature — is unconstitutional. “The Legislature gave the SRC what amounts to carte blanche powers to suspend virtually any combination of provisions of the School Code – a statute covering a broad range of topics,” the court said in its ruling, adding it had “never deemed such an unconstrained grant of authority to be constitutionally valid.” The ruling was made in a suit by West Philadelphia Achievement Charter School — and means the SRC can no longer impose seat limits on new charters in the district. (Indeed, the SRC approved three new charters on Tuesday.)

The SRC has also used the power in recent years to expedite school closings and cancel seniority provisions in teacher contracts. Now those decisions are in question. “This kind of pulls the rug out from many of policies we have taken to try to improve the quality of education for children in Philadelphia,” SRC member Bill Green told NewsWorks. “It will cost the district probably millions, if not tens of millions of dollars.” Jerry Jordan, executive director of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers also expressed concern the ruling would lead to a charter drain on district finances. “The ruling from the PA Supreme Court is indeed a ‘double-edged sword’ for our schoolchildren,” he said in a written statement. “Though it seems to place much-needed checks and balances on an SRC run amok, it also has the potential to put our school district finances in an extremely precarious position.” Expect more reaction at the state and local levels today.

Will beer soon be allowed in Pennsylvania convenience stores?

Possibly. AP reports the Pennsylvania Supreme Court — they had a busy Tuesday, clearly — will take on a case involving the state Liquor Control Board and the company that runs the Sheetz convenience stores so popular in the western half of the state. The debate? Whether beer and gasoline can be legally sold at the same store. There’s going to be some hair-splitting going on. “Section 404 of the Liquor Code, prohibits the transfer of a liquor license to a “location” where ‘the sale of liquid fuels or oil is conducted,’” the court observed in a Tuesday filing. The question at hand: “What is a location?” No word on when the case will be heard.

It’s going to cost a lot of money to keep the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City

The Press of Atlantic City reports that new documents show the state would have to pay up to $11.9 million over the next three years to help offset the pageant’s production costs. In exchange, the city would get a live remote performance during the annual “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” show put on by Dick Clark Productions, a shout-out when Miss America presents an award at the Billboard Music Awards, and promotion during the opening of the next three pageant telecasts. But state officials question whether the expense is worth it, and Mayor Don Guardian has been known to wonder if the money would be better spent in another fashion, telling the Press last December: “”‘So if I gave you (that same money), do you think you’d rather have Madonna or Lady Gaga or Bruno Mars on a beach concert?'”

A Penn grad will compete on the new season of Survivor.

The Daily Pennsylvanian reports that Cydney Gillon, a 2014 graduate and a professional bodybuilder, will be one of the show’s competitors. She was on the varsity track team during her time at Penn, which friends believe will serve her well. “I think she will most certainly fare well in all of the physical challenges,” assistant track coach Porscha Dobson told the paper. The new season of Survivor premieres at 8 p.m. tonight on CBS.

Eric Lindros has finally made peace with his crazy hockey career.

Philly Mag’s Dan McQuade gives an overview of a new Lindros profile in The Hockey News: It’s a story about how Lindros, who was a Flyer from 1992 to 2001, is at peace with his career despite how tumultuous it was: He was the best player in the world for a few years, but he feuded with Flyers management, never won a Stanley Cup and somehow was even linked to Joey Merlino.The story is also about how Lindros was a driving force for player safety in the NHL, how he continues to fight now for concussion awareness and how he’s trying to raise money for Dr. Arthur Brown’s research into a way that could prevent the damage caused by concussions. Six concussions took a toll on his career: “I had huge fears. It’s tough going from being so assertive – you never show any cracks – to having an ‘X’ on your back,” Lindros said. “I had a fear of cutting through the middle. Absolutely. Could I still shoot and pass? I could still score, but it wasn’t the same game.”

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