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A new vision for the School District

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The Philadelphia School District has announced a press conference for Tuesday to release a “transformation plan" and five-year financial plan, and the Notebook has obtained a copy of the reorganization proposal prepared by Chief Academic Officer Penny Nixon.

The CAO's 40-page proposal for academic reorganization would eliminate the current academic divisions and replace them with 12 “principal learning teams” that would bring school leaders together monthly. The academic departments in the central office would be reorganized to offer a “menu of supports and services” for schools to draw upon in areas like talent development, curriculum, student and family services, student placement, and school climate. The goal would be to provide "timely assistance to principals and schools."

Nixon's proposal also spells out an approach to granting more school autonomy, as well as supports and intervention that would apply to schools, all depending on their academic performance.

The document, the culmination of the work of seven "academic design subcommittees" that met for weeks this winter, also includes a plan for aligning Philadelphia’s curriculum to both the Common Core standards and a set of new grade-specific “college and career-ready indicators.”

Nixon sent this document to all principals Sunday afternoon and said she looked forward to discussing it with them in the coming weeks.

It is not clear how the document fits in with other reorganization plans being drawn up by the Boston Consulting Group, which was hired by the District with funding from the William Penn Foundation to rethink the District’s operations, find new efficiencies, and focus on directing scarce dollars to students’ academic needs, as opposed to administrative costs.  

There is no reference to the Boston Consulting Group in the document, which also does not address the District's business operations. The members of the seven subcommittees are listed in the document, but no BCG consultants are listed.

Check back for further updates.

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Dale Mezzacappa

@dalemezz
Dale is a contributing editor at the Notebook. She has reported on education since 1986, most of that time with The Philadelphia Inquirer.