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Nunery seeks fresh start

By the Notebook on Aug 23, 2011 01:50 PM
Photo: Benjamin Herold

New Acting Superintendent Leroy Nunery.

by Benjamin Herold
for the Notebook,

In his first press briefing since becoming acting superintendent, Leroy Nunery emphasized that the School District is entering a new era following the end of Arlene Ackerman's tumultuous tenure.

"I think it's clear that the District has gone through a lot in the last several weeks and months," said Nunery. "We've got to restore confidence in public education."

Nunery said he would focus on rebuilding trust and repairing relationships that have grown frayed in recent months. He made conciliatory overtures to media members and to District's five labor unions, from whom the District is still hoping to extract concessions.

"I am trying to send a message to all of our unionized members that we care," said Nunery. "We need everybody to feel as though they are part of the solution."

A teachers' union spokesperson said earlier in the day that Philadelphia Federation of Teachers' Jerry Jordan does not intend to reopen the existing teachers' contract until its expiration in 2012.

Despite the controversy that came to surround Ackerman, Nunery reaffirmed the District’s commitment to her five-year strategic plan, Imagine 2014, though he acknowledged the budgetary constraints that the District will be operating under.

"I think this is a year for us to consolidate what gains we have," said Nunery. "We're trying to present the prudent course of action and extend what good work has already been done."

Nunery and Associate Superintendent of Schools Penny Nixon emphasized that the District is prepared for a seamless opening of schools on September 6.

“I am clear. We will be ready on the first day of school,” Nixon said.

She added that District leadership has been talking with principals weekly about five key areas considered most urgent for the opening of schools:

  • staffing

  • textbook and materials

  • facilities

  • transportation

  • internal systems

As of Tuesday afternoon, there were 556 remaining teacher vacancies, according to District officials, who said placement sessions are ongoing. So far, 388 previously laid-off teachers have been recalled. Over the past week, the District has cut the vacancy count in half.

Numerous schools have a long way to go, however, especially some neighborhood comprehensive high schools and the eight schools that until another round of budget cuts earlier this month were set to become Promise Academies this fall.

For instance, Alcorn Elementary School in South Philadelphia, an aborted Promise Academy, has 19 vacancies. Rhodes High School in North Philadelphia has 11.

Nixon also reported that 87 percent of buildings have been cleaned and are ready for opening this year.

Earlier in the day, George Ricchezza, president of SEIU Local 32BJ, District 1201, said his members are still set to vote on a plan that would result in 100 school maintenance mechanics and 92 building engineer trainees being laid off. He said he was still hoping to find an alternative. Ricchezza expressed concern that all schools would have a building engineer after September.

The District's ongoing commitment to Imagine 2014 will include a continued commitment to the Promise Academy model, which Nunery said would continue to “evolve.”

The nine Promise Academies in operation this year will have their extra hour of extended learning time during the week scaled back from four days to three, with one extra hour each week still devoted to professional development for staff. Saturday school at the Promise Academies has been discontinued.

Nunery initially indicated that there would be changes in the District's facilities master planning process and said that he did not want to put recommendations about school closings, consolidations, and other changes in a "black box." But a District spokesperson later clarified that the previously announced timeline will stand. Formal recommendations will be presented to the School Reform Commission in October. After three months of public hearings, the SRC will vote on the recommendations in early 2012.

Neither Nunery nor Masch offered concrete answers to when the District's final budget would be resolved.

Masch did say that a deal with SEPTA to continue to provide TransPasses to students would be announced at Wednesday’s SRC meeting.

Though he emphasized the need to rebuild public trust in the District moving forward, Nunery declined to say when he would speak on his involvement in a closed-door meeting regarding a potential charter contract for Martin Luther King High School. An investigation by city Chief Integrity Officer Joan Markman is in its fifth month, with no definitive word on when the results will be released.

District officials encouraged parents with questions about the opening of school to call 215-400-4000.

Notebook intern Avi Wolfman-Arent contributed reporting to this article.

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Comments (65)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2011 4:25 pm

The night he was present at that secret back door meeting with Evans, Archie, Porter etal, he disqualified himself completely from getting the Sup position. The fact that they gave it to him anyway tells you all you need to know about their credibility and integrity-----0%.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2011 1:13 pm

His photo gives me the creeps!

Submitted by Informed. (not verified) on August 24, 2011 4:53 pm

Considering he was one of the final two for the Sup. position in the first place??

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2011 4:47 pm

Scary Stuff.

Submitted by Audax (not verified) on August 23, 2011 4:37 pm

Someone damn well better figure out how to open the schools. 2 weeks out and I still can't get a roster, on SchoolNet I'm assigned to a school that the District no longer controls, and my new school can't/won't tell me what room I'll be in so that I can start moving stuff in.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2011 4:45 pm

I'd be happy to have a room to go to!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2011 6:14 pm

Sit Tight--You will be recalled.

Submitted by Teachwhocares on August 23, 2011 8:54 pm

Hold on, you'll be getting your letter soon. I went in and counted the number of vacancies and I know they will be recalling everyone that was laid off and will be running around looking for additional teachers. Just hold on, your time is coming.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2011 2:56 am

Today's numbers reported by Kristen Graham were 566 positions remaining and 380 had been recalled. Those 380 haven't been placed and there may be more who were never laid off but need to be placed. Presuming only the 380 need to be placed, that's 186 that need to be rehired. Not everyone. And they may not do that if schools don't have the budgets. I'd love to know how I'm wrong but I'd rather just have a recall letter from the District.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2011 2:22 am

newskag: "556 vacancies as of this moment. 388 laid-off teachers have been called back"
I used the numbers I remembered. I was off by 10 and 8. So 556-388=168 that need to be rehired.

Submitted by Teachwhocares on August 24, 2011 7:09 am

What was your hire date??? If this helps, they have sent recall letters to people who were hired in 2009.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2011 8:05 pm

what school? sounds like it's an issue there, as opposed to with the district, if they aren't the operator.

Submitted by Audax (not verified) on August 23, 2011 9:31 pm

No. I'm still in the District. My current school can't/couldn't as of 2pm this afternoon tell me what I'm teaching or what room I'll be in, so that I can begin preparing.

I had been in a school that has since been turned over to a charter company as part of the Renaissance initiative. According to SchoolNet, that is still where I'm assigned, so I can't really access much in terms of my new school.

I would like to have my syllabi completed before the weekend and not have to worry about setting up next week when we only have 2 days in school (and I won't have much time next Mon, Tue, Weds because I have friends coming in from Africa) so that's why I wanted to be able to move in and organize this week.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2011 8:02 pm

Gee, I thought that was the norm for teachers in the district... not knowing anything until AFTER it happens.

Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2011 5:55 am

STOP complaining- at least you have a position- Be part of the solution, not the problem!

Submitted by Audax (not verified) on August 24, 2011 11:48 am

Yeah, because me wanting to know what I'm going to teach so I can do lesson plans, write a syllabus, or bone up on any weaknesses, that's really not trying to be part of a solution!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2011 1:32 pm

Forced transfer here (high school.) I've been told I can find out my classroom and start getting in on Friday. Well, it's a start! Hang in there! No roster info though. (Like you I'd like to get started ASAP.)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2011 3:29 pm

I agree with the person above stop complaining. Obviously, if you were hired for a position, technically shouldn't you know or have an idea of what your teaching. I'm assuming your position matches your certification.

Submitted by TR (not verified) on August 24, 2011 5:03 pm

You're not the only one who doesn't have details. Complaining isn't helping. It isn't personal so keep your cool so you can start off the year on a positive note. Try to enjoy the last few days of summer break. You can prepare by reviewing general instructional strategies, etc.that may apply to any teaching situation. It will all come together soon.

Submitted by High School Teacher (not verified) on August 25, 2011 12:34 pm

It's pretty outrageous that teachers in this district have to constantly "out-misery" each other instead of supporting each other. It's crazy for teachers to have no idea what they are teaching a few days before school is set to open, regardless of whether YOU have a position. I don't have my position yet, but I can't believe people on here are giving other people crap because they want to get into their classrooms and know whether they are teaching chemistry or biology or American or World history. It's no wonder so many people leave this district.

To the OP who is getting slammed....I'm sorry you don't have your roster yet. I know being able to prepare for your students is hard.

Submitted by TR (not verified) on August 25, 2011 12:23 pm

My comment was not meant to slam anyone, actually, it was meant to be helpful-- I have a position, but was told to wait for Sept 1 for details-- I am going to relax, enjoy my last few days, and be open to whatever happens--hopefully without freaking out.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 25, 2011 12:55 pm

Again, if you are hired your certification should match your position. I sincerely doubt that if a teacher has a Biology degree then they are teaching history. So chances are you have taught the subject before. We are all adults and thus should be able to work under pressure.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 25, 2011 1:08 pm

As a Special Education teacher who was hired to teach History and ended up teaching English, this comment is just straight up not true. One of my colleagues down the hall was hired to teach English and taught Science. At the high school level, Special Education teachers often teach outside their area of qualification/expertise.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 25, 2011 2:32 pm

I do agree with you, but the initial post doesn't say that the person is a Special Education teacher.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 25, 2011 2:34 pm

So what that they don't mention special ed? I am certified k-6, MY Math and MY Science. I am new to teaching and don't have every thing nailed down or years and years of resources. What I do have is a desire to put in time now to prepare myself, the environment, and my materials to make it a good experience for both my students and I. It is frustrating that I can't prepare as much as I'd like to and my take on the original post was a similar feeling and a harmless venting.

In the great words of Jackie Moon. "Everybody love everybody!!!"

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2011 5:11 pm

Does anyone know the procedure if you are out of town and you get called back to pick a school?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2011 5:19 pm

You have to get someone to go down and pick for you. I am picking for a friend tomorrow.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2011 6:47 pm

You need to find someone to pick for you. Leave them a letter that states you give them permission. They need to bring ID.

Submitted by Teachwhocares on August 23, 2011 8:17 pm

I would take a look at the vacancy list and give the person the choices that you want in numbered order. I would also let that person know that they may be down at 440 for hours because it takes a while for the selection process to move along and then there are always interruptions that take place. Is the person checking your mail for you because the recall letters are coming in the mail.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2011 6:29 pm

oh ok thanks how to let them know you can't make it and someone is letting coming for you. Do you have to fax something or is it just a phone call?

Submitted by anonYmOUs TEACHer (not verified) on August 23, 2011 7:26 pm

Just send the proxy with the letter. Nothing else needed.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2011 8:02 pm

yes, send the proxy with the letter-- include your school district ID number, if you can (it's on your pay stubs), and tell the proxy to look for the representative for the PFT-- there is always a PFT staff person available-- just to make sure that all goes smoothly.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2011 7:15 pm

Nunnery has no business in this position after what he pulled in that secret meeting with Archie etc. By the way, why is Archie still on the SRC. Don't these people even pretend to care or do they think the people here are dumb enough to fall for the okie dokie AGAIN.

Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2011 9:12 pm

stand firm jerry jordan...NO GIVEBACKS!!!
let corbett tax his frackin buddies to pay the difference.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2011 9:24 pm

I completely agree--no concessions at all. It's all a shell game anyway. Unions need to fight together.

Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2011 5:55 am

maybe nutter can get some more private, anonymous contributions...

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2011 9:37 pm

Nunery, Nixon, Driver, Wayman, etc. all followed Ackerman's directives from secret meetings, bullying to lying to the public. We need to clean house. Granted, it won't happen in a week but all should be demoted and new leadership put in place. They can't distance themselves from Ackerman.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2011 9:03 pm

I agree totally. I also think the SRC should be canned yesterday and Archie needs to march his tired butt into jail. Evans should NOT be reelected and Gamble and Porter--Mosaica--- should have their scams, I mean schools, revoked also yesterday.

Guess what---ain't none of it going to happen although it surely should if the schools are going to become clean. They've all proven to anybody whose head isn't buried in cement that they all need to go. A fresh start is needed. We need to set an example that their corruption has played out.

Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2011 5:42 am

Agreed- we cannot have a fresh start and build public trust until we get new, trustworthy people!

Submitted by J (not verified) on August 24, 2011 6:43 am

A fresh start? Is Linda Cliatt-Wayman still AD-1 Regional Supe? So how can we have a fresh start? So you are correct. We do need NEW, TRUSTWORTHY people. Just getting rid of Ack doesn't change the sick culture that is the SDP.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2011 9:51 pm

I am nervous as hell about not getting called back - have not heard word one from the district. They screwed up my summer pay - my unemployment - and my account with PSERS - why do I have the feeling they'll screw up my getting called back too ? I have zero confidence in this city, this district...

Submitted by Teachwhocares on August 23, 2011 11:22 pm

Yes, I know exactly how you are feeling. My account at PSER's stated that I am on a leave without pay...Not the case at all, I was laid off. That information had to come from the District.
Go and look at all the vacancies. You will be called back. I know it is hard to just wait. This has been the worse summer, not knowing if or when I was going to get called back...But, if I had had any sense at all, I would have looked at the vacancy list as I did tonight and counted all of the vacanies, I probably would have had a better summer. Again, try and relax.

Submitted by Anonymously (not verified) on August 25, 2011 3:44 pm

But you were a 2009 hire. Many of us 2010 hires will probably not be as lucky as you. Even if we have math certs which are no longer sufficiently rare.

Submitted by Teachwhocares on August 25, 2011 5:34 pm

Re-read post, I said I know people who were hired in 2009 who received letters for call backs.

Continue to check the vacancy list. There are probably going to be more call backs than anyone can imagine at this point. Now that I think about it, when did the freeze begin, 2009 or 2010?

I know that it is not easy to not know where or if you will be returning. I am just believing that all who were laid off are all going to be coming back it may not be in September, but you and others will be coming back.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 25, 2011 5:19 pm

Did all of the recalls you know get emails or was it only by mail?

Submitted by Teachwhocares on August 25, 2011 6:56 pm

They received a letter signed by Estelle Matthews, by mail.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2011 10:38 pm

Yes, many of the teachers will be called back but not to the same school. Do you how frustrating it is for all these teachers to start over and for principals to lose them.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2011 12:43 am

I agree...i am also afraid of not getting called back. It is very hard to have that anxious feeling in the back of your mind. I am afraid the district will forget me!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2011 3:12 am

I'm also nervous. Another laid off teacher called the PFT to ask about recalls and was told that there would be no way of knowing until at least Wednesday after all of the transfers have picked their schools, but I'm seeing comments and reports that the letters have already gone out. I'm wondering if anyone actually knows what's going on.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2011 7:31 am

I feel your pain but I am very sure in my heart and mind that you will be recalled----just a matter of time.

Submitted by Teach (not verified) on August 24, 2011 9:37 am

Give professional staffing a call and make sure you're on their lists. If you are, they won't forget you. A friend was once skipped for picking because she somehow wasn't on the list. She had to call them the day before school started.

Good luck to you. Let us know when you're recalled.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2011 10:36 am

I called and was told that I am not on the first list of callbacks, but as of now there was no way to see where I was on their list. According to the lady I spoke with, they called English teachers back up to January 2010 hire dates. 8 more months to go for me.

Submitted by LaidOffTeacher (not verified) on August 24, 2011 11:53 am

What number did you call? Dept?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2011 2:21 pm

I called today and was told they couldn't provide this info....we all get something different. I did find out that they didn't process my newest cert which I was banking on to get called back on the sooner side.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2011 8:14 am

If Ackerman works for the children, she should donate that $900K+ to help balance the budget. That is the money she never works for.

Now Nunery?
Look at his dumb face. It is going to be the same. He will be another bagger and create more chaos. He will bankrupt the school system once again and leave the district in chaos with another bag!

Submitted by James Brown (not verified) on August 24, 2011 1:38 pm

What makes his face dumb?
What schools did you attend and how many degrees to you have?

It's amazing at how many people immediately assume the worst- Would it have occurred to you and others that the reason why he may have sat quiet while Queen Arlene ran the show was because he was patiently waiting for his chance to make some changes and bring the new faces in.

For a city like Philadelphia, it is disgusting to see how much hate exists, especially with regards to giving someone a chance. He IS a new face, and he wasn't Ackerman's lap dog either.
Why not embrace the change for once and support someone who wasn't directly to blame for Arlene's past mistakes.

Also I dare bring race into the fold, but I am not surprised that the coloration of the officials in this city still unsettles many. Instead of them making changes though, they complain and hurl insults, anonymously on the internet. Stay Classy, Philadelphia, the kids need more role models like you......

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2011 10:05 pm

why would you question my education and stuff? What If I tell you I am actually one of the current Philly student? Time will always be the answer. However, it costs too much at the end. Now everybody is already in a mess. You want to bring race in? Why the f this city is ruled by blacks? black mayor, black superintendent, black chief and black thieves?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 25, 2011 6:54 pm

That is insulting to many people.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2011 11:26 am

I tend to think you're right. She should NEVER have been given that position considering that secret meeting he attended. What's up with that????

Submitted by Bailey (not verified) on August 24, 2011 11:48 am

I think what really bothers most people is the fact that times are tough and if you are teaching for the money then you are teaching for the wrong reasons. I don't believe most teachers feel that way and I believe that they could be reasonable.



This casino en ligne is one that will knock your socks off in terms of wagering action and casino sights and sounds.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2011 11:53 am

In this picture he is wondering how much he can scam the District for.. he's pretending to think.. If Arlene took $905,000 for leaving, I can take at least $350,000 for a couple of months as Interim and leave the district before they even realize I'm gone. Keep him away!!

Submitted by Informed. (not verified) on August 24, 2011 4:23 pm

Less than likely.
If you did any research before moaning, you'd realize he's already spent the majority of his life in the for-profit industry. Furthermore, if you took the time to meet and know him, you might learn that he left that side of the industry because he wants to see improvements.

Not everyone in Phila. is corrupt and unethical. It seems most of you have been around this kind of mentality and attitude for too long, which is why EVERYTHING in this city has reached this point. How sad is it that those responsible for teaching the future are so incredibly bitter, and misinformed?
You can't blame one person (who hasn't even held the position) for all of the ills and fallacies experienced previously-- unless you're already hoping for his failure, which, of course, would only hinder the children more, and set everyone further back. Way to go!!!

I guarantee if you took the time to (positively/constructively) share your opinions, people would be more receptive to dealing with you. But of course, you're anonymous and clutching at straws here, so you'll likely not receive that opportunity.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2011 11:44 am

What about new teachers? Hasn't the district always had unfilled positions at the beginning of the school year? I did my student teaching in the SDP and I talk to my mentor/classroom teacher every week about what is happening. Nobody seems to know who is in charge. I understand this summer has been tough for everyone, but it's really demoralizing be starting a teaching career and have nobody willing to even talk to you.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2011 4:01 pm

welcome to the School District of Philadelphia.....when you start in your school, your fellow colleagues can and will be helpful. There is an awful lot of things you won't be told, at least by the district admin.

Submitted by krish (not verified) on August 26, 2011 7:39 am

scary stuff...........

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