The forecast for tonight's School Reform Commission meeting shows every sign of being a tempest.
Before the meeting convenes, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and its supporters will be out en masse protesting the SRC's decision to cancel its contract with the teachers' union. At the same time, it's been reported that a small coterie of "counter-protesters" paid by a guerrilla marketing firm to circulate anti-PFT information, is expected to turn up at the demonstration. The firm was hired by the Commonwealth Foundation, a right-leaning think tank, which today unveiled a new website called PFTFails.com.
On Thursday, reports spread via social media that SRC member Sylvia Simms reprimanded student protesters who disrupted the screening Wednesday evening of Won't Back Down, a film about parent-trigger laws. Protesters from the Philadelphia Student Union said Simms told them, "You kids must be going to failing schools."
A pending copy of the meeting's resolutions shows that the District is proposing the sale of two former school buildings. Elizabeth D. Gillespie Middle School, which was closed in 2009, has been slated to go to Mastery Charter Schools, whose Simon Gratz High School is located on the same block. The proposed sale price of $250,000 is well below the asking price of $1.5 million and the property's market value, which the Office of Property Assessment has surprisingly estimated at $40 million.
The sale of the former Alexander Wilson School in University City is proposed to the University of Sciences for $2 million. The school, which closed in 2013, had previously been approved for sale to real estate developer Orens Bros. for $4.6 million. After a request to extend the due diligence period was denied, the District then proposed selling the school to its second-highest bidder, Woodland Associates, for $3.65 million.
The District also plans to take its final action in its effort to close Arise Academy Charter High School and deny the school a renewal of its charter. If the SRC approves the action, Arise can appeal the decision to the state's Charter Appeals Board, and it will stay open pending the board's decision.
Sixty people have signed up for the public speakers portion of the meeting. The District said that security will be heavier than usual.
Also on the agenda for the meeting: The SRC will proclaim the month of October as family appreciation month and bullying prevention month.