The last scheduled meeting of the School Reform Commission for the school year is tonight. The SRC will likely vote on the renewal of at least four charter schools and finalize the charter agreements for the three Renaissance Schools and their charter operators.
The list of resolutions can be found here. The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m.
For the first time, Gov. Tom Corbett has issued a formal statement on Philadelphia's school-funding crisis, saying he is "committed to finding a solution ... that is focused on students and is fiscally responsible for taxpayers."
His statement came minutes after Daniel Denvir of City Paper published a leaked poll, conducted by a prominent national Republican polling group, Public Opinion Strategies. The poll of Pennsylvania voters concludes that Corbett can increase his popularity -- and chances for re-election -- by taking on the Philadelphia teachers' union, especially on the issue of teacher seniority.
by Holly Otterbein for NewsWorks
Wawa is circulating literature that raises concerns about a proposal to tax cigarettes in Philadelphia.
City Council voted last week to impose a new $2 tax on every pack of cigarettes, but the proposal still would require state legislation. It is part of a plan to bail out the city's schools, which are facing a $304 million budget deficit next fiscal year.
The document that Wawa shared with some Pennsylvania lawmakers and the Corbett administration states that the $2 tax would create a black market for cigarettes.
See also: State eyes $100M boost for Philly School District. Daily News
See also: Council: We've done our part for schools; now Pa. needs to help. NewsWorks/Notebook
The day that Gov. Corbett jumped the shock. Daily News
See also: Germantown High's rich history. Daily News
Goodbye Germantown. Daily News
Where is the Council's school funding guarantee? Parents United
by Tom MacDonald for NewsWorks
Philadelphia City Council is poised to pass its funding solution for the city's public schools this week. But the formula will depend on cooperation from Pennsylvania legislators.
The Council plans to pass a tax of $2-per-pack of cigarettes, proposed by Mayor Nutter, combined with enhanced revenue collection of about $28 million in back taxes.
Discovery Charter School staged a festive ribbon-cutting for its new building in Parkside on Tuesday, declaring in a press release that it had settled a dispute over payments with the School Reform Commission and that its charter had been renewed.
Discovery did agree to repay the School District for students it enrolled beyond what was called for in its signed contract, according to District spokesman Fernando Gallard. However, he said, Discovery officials have yet to sign a new charter agreement.
by Sonia Giebel
Natalie Hawtin is in demand. “Parents are clamoring to have their children in her class next year,” wrote Greenfield Elementary School parent Jacqueline F. Bershad in a letter to Superintendent William Hite, “even though the other 2nd grade teachers are excellent, beloved, and much more experienced."
Another parent, Serena Dignan Fisher, wishes she “could just clone [Ms. Hawtin]” because she is “that good.” For example, Hawtin helped introduce a nationally prominent literacy program to 2nd grade this year, which was her first at the school. Hite himself visited her classroom in October, and left impressed.
“He thanked me for my hard work and told me my classroom looked great,” Hawtin said.
by Tom MacDonald for NewsWorks
As the budget process in Philadelphia nears a conclusion, the group that oversees the city's finances is cleaning off its magnifying glass to take a look.
Sam Katz, head of the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, says that with the city receiving a boost to its bond rating this week, taking care of the public schools appears to be the biggest problem. He says the city, state, and Philadelphia Federation of Teachers all need to be part of the solution.
by James H. Lytle
When I started working for the School District in 1970, there were 300,000 students attending 265 schools. When the new school year begins, there will be 200,000 students at 303 schools, including charter schools. There are now more and smaller schools than there were in 1970, when some high schools had 4,000 students and were on double shifts. In one sense, this shift can be seen as an improvement, because small schools tend to be more caring and effective than big schools.
But as the number of schools increased, the demand for school leaders -- principals -- grew markedly too. At the same time, the job of principal has become more complex, more demanding, and less attractive in a District ill-equipped to support or retain quality school leaders.
by Mary Wilson for NewsWorks
One Democratic state lawmaker is warning that poor schools are being overlooked as the Pennsylvania legislature gets down to the final two weeks of budget negotiations.
Sen. Anthony Williams points to the Philadelphia School District, which is laying off nearly 3,800 workers, and says other financially distressed districts will join it soon if the state doesn't send more money.
Lawmakers are too busy trying to find consensus on policy issues orbiting around the budget, he said.