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5 things to know about the District's decision to open schools on time

By Paul Socolar on Aug 15, 2014 11:43 AM

Flanked by four members of the School Reform Commission, Superintendent William Hite announced Friday morning that Philadelphia schools would open on time Sept. 8, but that another round of "difficult and hopefully temporary" cuts would be made to narrow the District's $81 million deficit.

Here are five key points about the School District's latest plan for dealing with its budget gap.

1. Temporary cuts and budget adjustments totaling $32 million were announced. These include discontinuing TransPasses for 7,500 high school students who live less than two miles from school, eliminating 300 slots in alternative programs for students at risk of dropping out, making 27 more elementary schools share police officers, reducing school cleaning and repairs, cutting extra professional development time at the District's Promise Academies, and eliminating some administrative positions. "These are cuts we want to treat as temporary," Hite said. "We want to restore them."

Could 'community school' concept work in Philadelphia?

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Aug 14, 2014 07:11 PM

In Philadelphia, 40 percent of school-aged kids live in poverty.

One in five students has had some contact with the Department of Human Services.

The rate of chlamydia and gonorrhea among Philadelphia's 15- to 19-year-olds is three times the national average.

In an effort to help city children achieve academically despite socioeconomic difficulties, City Council has started examining the idea of turning schools into social-service hubs.

SRC meeting canceled; Hite will have press conference Friday morning

By Dale Mezzacappa on Aug 14, 2014 05:21 PM

With D-Day upon us -- the Aug. 15 deadline for layoffs and other cuts without a guarantee of more funds for this school year -- District leaders on Thursday first announced a special meeting of the School Reform Commission, then canceled that and opted for a press conference instead.

Superintendent William Hite will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. Friday in the atrium of District headquarters at 440 N. Broad St. SRC members will be present.

Commonwealth Foundation's analysis of Philly school finances is flawed

By John Sludden on Aug 14, 2014 12:13 PM

Note: This is adapted from a brief that was published Aug. 8 by the Philadelphia-based group Research for Action. The full brief can be found here.

Philadelphia’s school funding situation is a central issue in state policy discussions. The recent debate has focused on city’s authority to raise taxes on cigarettes. But the essential questions on whether the school system has enough money have been present in the state capitol for at least two decades.

The Commonwealth Foundation released a brief on Philadelphia school trends recently that received prominent attention in the local press. It argued that despite a funding increase, the District has little academic improvement to show for it.

Can we trust the Philly cigarette tax revenue projections? A look inside the numbers

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Aug 13, 2014 03:34 PM

You can hear them calling in the street.

They lean on corners, squat on milk crates, rest on folding chairs – angling for a buck.

At the bustling intersection where Erie and Germantown Avenues slice through North Broad Street, they occupy every corner, calling to passersby:

"Loosie! Loosie!"

They're the city's black market cigarette hawks.

From packs semi-hidden in coat pockets or under thighs, the hawks sell individual "loosie" cigarettes. On a recent hot Friday afternoon, the going rate on North Broad was 50 cents a pop.

A citywide push on literacy -- Read by 4th -- has its official launch

By Dale Mezzacappa on Aug 13, 2014 02:37 PM

Amarii Simpson, 9, was sitting up front, a copy of My First Dictionary on the table before him in a room at the McVeigh Recreation Center at D and Ontario Street in Kensington.

Why was he reading a dictionary?

He gave a "duh" look in response to the question.

"So I can learn more words!"

Under fire as 'ghost employee,' Pa. education adviser Tomalis to step down

By Mary Wilson via NewsWorks on Aug 12, 2014 03:39 PM

An education adviser to Gov. Corbett is stepping down from his post, weeks after a newspaper report found little evidence that he was working.

Ron Tomalis' resignation letter includes a list of his accomplishments as a special adviser on higher education in Pennsylvania. Those accomplishments were called into question by a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report last month that found little in schedule documents, phone logs, or interviews to suggest that Tomalis had been doing much in his job, which paid nearly $140,000 a year.

MLK High conflict-resolution staff seek facetime with incoming freshmen

By Aaron Moselle for NewsWorks on Aug 12, 2014 12:07 PM

Do the right thing.

Since the beginning of summer, Kim Ivery has relayed the simple — but heartfelt — wish countless times to her daughter Lexus, a rising freshman.

She desperately wants her youngest to start fresh after a rocky middle school experience.

"You're going to high school now," she's told her. "You're becoming a young lady. All that fighting and stuff, you have to leave it behind."

Youth United for Change finds new leader

By Marilyn Vaccaro on Aug 11, 2014 12:07 PM
Rapheal Randall was named executive director of Youth United for Change.

The application process was intensive, but Youth United for Change has selected Rapheal Randall as its new executive director.

Randall, 33, replaces longtime leader Andi Perez, who recently stepped down after 16 years with the organization. YUC made the announcement last week and plans to introduce the new leader to supporters and the broader community very soon.

Randall was chosen from more than 50 applicants by a search committee made up of YUC staff, board members, and alumni, according to a YUC news release.

Notes from the news, Aug.11

By thenotebook on Aug 11, 2014 08:59 AM

Philly parents anxiously await school funding - or dire decision by District. NewsWorks

Fate of Philadelphia's School Year Hangs In Balance. CBS Philly

Minority students no longer minority in U.S. schools, projections show. AP

Amid annual budget crises, faith in public education fades. Inquirer

In Philly schools' bleak season, a summer camp shines. Inquirer

Teen Girl Leads Philly Little League Baseball Team to Little League World Series NBC10.com

Phila. champs head to World Series on wave of good fellowship Inquirer

Philly's own Taney Dragons are THE feel-good story of the summer! Parents United

Unscrambling autism laws. Inquirer

National survey shows increase in summer program participation. Notebook

From the archives: Fed up with gay-bashing: How one student responds. Notebook

District launches annual registration service for immigrant families. Notebook

Teach for America shows it's learned a lesson about diversity: Now, what's next? The Hechinger Report

Q&A with author Elizabeth Green: Great teachers needs 'specialized skills and knowledge'. The Hechinger Report

In Atlanta, Jury Selection Is Set to Begin in Test Scandal. New York Times

Why race-based affirmative action in college admissions still matters. The Washington Post

Arne Duncan's new 'top advisers'. The Washington Post

The Teaching Life - They Grow Up. Practical Theory

News Summary from Keystone State Education Coalition


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Notes from the news

Philly parents anxiously await funding - and decision on opening of schools

By Kevin McCorry for Newsworks on Aug 8, 2014 06:42 PM

Decision day looms on the horizon.

In one week, the Philadelphia School District will announce its plans to deal with its $81 million budget gap.

Without additional funding, Superintendent William Hite says he will be forced to choose between two bad options: either lay off 1,300 staffers, mostly teachers, or save money by shortening the school year.

This could happen by opening schools late or closing early.

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