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SRC to hold action meeting Thursday for first time since departure of Ramos

In the first voting meeting of the School Reform Commission since Pedro Ramos resigned as chairman, the remaining four members of the panel will meet tomorrow to act on a list of resolutions that include a large number of donation acceptances. 

A District spokesman said that Commissioner Wendell Pritchett will preside over the meeting as acting chair, as he has done when Ramos missed a meeting. Gov. Corbett still has not announced a replacement for Ramos. The governor's selected candidate will have to be confirmed by the state Senate.

One resolution that may draw attention at Thursday's meeting is the proposed change to the charter of People for People Charter School in Fairmount. The District has agreed to allow the school to expand from a K-8 school to include the high school grades, as long as the school remains below its current enrollment limit of 540 seats, unless otherwise agreed to. The charter's amendment would also come with a proviso that the school will not skirt the rules by enrolling students beyond the set cap and later seeking payment for those students from the District or state. 

The shuttered Solomon Charter School has been a recent and prominent example of a charter flouting the intent of the SRC in suspending the school code to limit costly charter growth. Solomon appealed directly to the state for hefty payouts to cover overenrolled students, even after its closure.  

Other resolutions of note include the following donations and grants.

  • The William Penn Foundation is giving $1,926,000 through a two-year grant that will provide college counseling and academic supports. More than two-thirds of the grant dollars will go toward a contract with City Year.
  • A $480,000 donation from the Philadelphia Education Supplies Fund, the first installment in Mayor Nutter's effort to raise nearly $2.5 million for classroom supplies over five years, will be accepted. Most of the money came from two donors and the city itself.   
  • The District will be voting to accept a donation from Achievement Network, a Boston-based company that specializes in data-driven instruction, to begin a pilot program in 10 schools. National funders of the program include the Gates Foundation, Carnegie Corporation, Walton Foundation, Dell Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Education.
  • The Workshop School gets two grants -- of $150,000 and $91,600 -- from Project Based Learning, through donations from State Farm Youth Advisory Board and Next Generation Learning Challenges.
  • Receiving elementary schools Blaine and Kelley will be receiving gifts of $115,000 and $160,000, respectively, from the Philadelphia School Partnership.

Members of the public who are interested in testifying can register to speak by calling the School District Office of Parent, Community & Family Engagement at 215-400-4180 no later than 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

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David Limm

@limmdavid
Online editor, the Notebook.