At its October 15 meeting, the School Reform Commission:
Reaffirmed, by unanimous vote, their April 16 decision to move to close two of the 63 charter schools operating under the auspices of the School District: Germantown Settlement and Renaissance. Both schools are in Northwest Philadelphia and have been in operation since 1999. The SRC decision can be appealed to the state. The SRC released a lengthy “Adjudication” on each school, summarizing their rationale, based on hearings held over the summer for public input into the decisions not to renew these charters.
Approved the award of a $29.7 million contract for the construction of a replacement building for the Willard School in Kensington. The Hunter Roberts Construction Group was selected for the long-awaited project. Willard currently houses more than 700 students in a century-old building and two annexes.
Heard a report from its “Safe Schools Advisory Committee,” calling upon the District to implement longer suspensions of students (up to 10 days) and to enforce an “expulsion policy,” rather than simply transferring to disciplinary schools those students who have committed severe violations of the discipline code.
At a special October 29 meeting, the SRC:
By a 3-2 vote, authorized the issuance of bonds totaling $397 million to support the continuation of the District’s capital program. Capital funds needed to complete 220 projects scheduled for the current year were otherwise anticipated to run out by November 15. Several new projects, including the Willard School construction, had been temporarily shelved due to high borrowing costs in the wake of the national credit crisis. The District was able to secure an interest rate averaging 5.98 percent for two separate bond issues. But District borrowing costs for the year are expected to exceed what was budgeted, according to Chief Business Officer Michael Masch. Commissioners Martin Bednarek and James Gallagher, citing procedural concerns, both voted against the bond authorization.