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In a time of austerity, Title I changes cause consternation in schools

By Dale Mezzacappa on Apr 24, 2015 06:42 PM

Superintendent William Hite has made it clear that he wants to target the most money he can to the neediest schools in the Philadelphia – those with very high poverty and low academic performance.

Doing this is crucial to improving achievement and giving underserved students better opportunities, Hite has said. Schools with the highest concentrations of poverty, he reiterates, need extra resources to overcome the toughest challenges.

How are charter schools funded in Pa.?

By Dan Hardy on Apr 24, 2015 10:03 AM

What makes charter school funding a point of contention?

With education funds scarce in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the debate over how charter schools get their money has never been more polarized.

The stakes are huge: In the 2013-14 school year, 176 charter schools educated 129,000 students statewide, at a cost to Pennsylvania school districts of more than $1.2 billion.

Scholarships funded through tax credits lift some, raise questions for others

By Laura Benshoff for NewsWorks on Apr 24, 2015 09:42 AM

One night in March, Kristen Lewis was working her cell phone as one of about 50 volunteers for the Children's Scholarship Fund of Philadelphia. They were calling families to let them know they had won a scholarship to take their kids out of low-performing public schools and put them in private or religious schooling.

In between calls, she got a call from a blocked number.

Lawmaker wants chronically underperforming schools under Pa. control

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Apr 23, 2015 07:09 PM

There's a general rule in Harrisburg: Republican leaders don't authorize more education spending without demanding stricter accountability measures.

Case in point: On the heels of Gov. Wolf's proposal to dramatically increase state aid for public schools, State Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster) will soon introduce a plan to accelerate the transformation of chronic underperformers.

Schools set two budgets for two futures

By David Limm on Apr 23, 2015 04:25 PM

Philadelphia schools can bear no more cuts, said Superintendent William Hite earlier this week.

It's positive news, then, that the School District of Philadelphia projects to end the year with a small surplus and expects to gain sorely needed resources next year, should city and state proposals hold up, according to budget documents.

How much does Pa. spend on public schools, and how are costs shared?

By Dale Mezzacappa on Apr 22, 2015 03:35 PM

Q. How much does Pennsylvania spend on K-12 public education compared to other states?

In 2012, Pennsylvania spent $26.5 billion on K-12 education. Only five other states — California, New York, Texas, Illinois, and New Jersey— spent more.

On a per-student basis, Pennsylvania ranked 13th among the states. In 2012, Pennsylvania spent $13,653 per student compared to a national average of $11,735. Vermont came out on top with $18,882 per student, and Utah ranked last with $6,688 per student.

City Council candidates' views on education: Allan Domb

By the Notebook on Apr 22, 2015 12:14 PM

On May 19, Philadelphians will hit the polls to winnow the field of City Council at-large candidates. Out of 28 declared candidates, only seven will be elected in November (including at least two from a minority party). Each party can run five candidates in the general election. The Notebook reached out to the candidates, asking their opinions on the election's most gripping issue: education.

Where do candidates stand on the School Reform Commission's decision to approve five new charter school applications? Whose job is it to find more money for public schools, the city's or the District's? Absent an agreement with the teachers' union, do they think the SRC is right to pursue concessions through the courts? And finally, what ideas do they have for how the District can fix its financial problems?

Missed connection: Kenney's website falters in schools

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Apr 22, 2015 10:07 AM

Philadelphia teachers may have already cast their lot with Jim Kenney in this year's mayoral race, but they are having serious issues connecting with the candidate.

Not Jim Kenney, the man, actually, but his website.

Time to end the charter-District divide and build a united front

By James H. Lytle on Apr 21, 2015 02:44 PM

It’s time to end the charter vs. District school schism in Philadelphia. The horse is out of the barn. The deal is done. Get over it.

If Philadelphia’s public schools are going to get adequate funding, there needs to be a “united front” of charter and District leadership marching arm in arm to City Hall and Harrisburg. Supporting one or the other should not be a litmus test for mayoral or City Council candidates. Division won’t bring victory in Harrisburg.

Court dismisses Pennsylvania school funding case; plaintiffs to appeal

By Dale Mezzacappa on Apr 21, 2015 11:35 AM


Commonwealth Court has dismissed a school funding complaint brought by several school districts, parents, and groups alleging that Pennsylvania's method of paying for education is unconstitutional and inequitable.

The ruling was another in a long line of Pennsylvania state court decisions affirming that school funding is strictly a function of the legislature and executive branch and therefore "nonjusticiable."

District begins Round 2 of plan to reinvent neighborhood schools

By David Limm on Apr 20, 2015 04:48 PM

For a second year, the District is inviting proposals from schools and their communities to overhaul neighborhood schools and reinvent high schools.

Monday's announcement marks the kick-off of Round 2 of the District's efforts to remake the city's neighborhood schools into appealing, cutting-edge options tailored to Philadelphia's mostly high-needs students.

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