Now’s Your Chance to Tell Philly How to Run Our Schools

The school district is on track to return to local control – and the city wants to know what you want to see in its new leaders.

In November, the contentious School Reform Commission voted to abolish itself, paving the way for the School District of Philadelphia to return to local control.

In the midst of the news, questions swirled: Who or what would replace the five-member commission, which has overseen the school district since 2001?

On Wednesday, Mayor Jim Kenney detailed the process necessary for appointing a new 12-member Board of Education, per the City Charter. It’s a little confusing, so stay with us here.

First, Kenney will appoint an Educational Nominating Panel. That panel will eventually help identify a large group of potential candidates for the board. The panel will be composed of nine Philadelphians who are the highest-ranking officers of their organizations, which include the Chamber of Commerce, institutions of higher learning, community organizations, education organizations, and labor groups. Four other Philadelphians selected by Kenney will also sit on the nominating panel.

The group will form in January. When it’s created, the panel will have up to 40 days to recommend 27 potential Board members. Kenney will then chose nine of those candidates to serve on the board.

The Mayor’s Office is requesting input on the school district’s future leaders. In a survey posted this week, residents are asked to select which aspects of the school district most need improvement, as well as what attributes are most important to them in regard to new board members, like having a business background, strong ethics and integrity, a financial background or a higher education background.

“As our Nominating Panel reviews potential board members, I want to make sure they hear from you,” Kenney said in a statement.

“We can ensure every child has quality schools in their neighborhood,” he added. “We can do this by creating a school district that is more stable and more accountable to Philadelphians.”

It’s not yet clear whether Pedro Rivera, the state’s Secretary of Education, has approved the SRC’s dissolution. He would need to do so by December 31st in order for the motion to become official. The Pennsylvania Department of Education did not immediately respond to an inquiry on Thursday morning. Reports have indicated that Rivera is expected to approve the decision.

To fill out the survey, visit the website for the Mayor’s Office. For more information on the School Reform Commission, check out our archives or the Philadelphia Public School Notebook.