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Pennsylvania near bottom for school breakfasts served, report says

By Sara Hoover for NewsWorks on Feb 11, 2015 11:04 AM

A report released this week shows Pennsylvania lags behind most of the country when it comes to providing free and reduced-cost breakfast and lunch to low-income students. The state ranks 41st in school breakfast participation by eligible students.

Facing growing shortfall, officials ask public for ideas on new revenue, cuts

By Dale Mezzacappa on Feb 10, 2015 06:31 PM

At the School Reform Commission's latest strategy, planning and priorities meeting Monday night, District officials again laid out a bleak budget picture -- predicting a shortfall next fiscal year of $80 million. The projection assumes that no labor savings and no new revenues are forthcoming.

At the two-hour meeting, officials asked about 40 members of the public who attended how they would make decisions about raising new revenue and cutting spending -- or adding services, should more than enough money to balance the budget miraculously materialize.

Lessons of sports mentorship program reach beyond the field

By Camden Copeland on Feb 10, 2015 03:26 PM

“Awesome” is how Lisa Wilmer, the principal of B.B. Comegys Elementary School, describes the Young Quakers Community Athletics program.

In 2012, Comegys had no sports programming. When University of Pennsylvania lacrosse coach Mike Murphy wanted his team to be more involved with service, a partnership formed between Comegys and Penn.

Education advocate Helen Gym begins run for City Council

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Feb 9, 2015 10:20 PM

One of Philadelphia's most recognizable education advocates has announced her candidacy for City Council.

Helen Gym, co-founder of Parents United for Public Education, held a kickoff event Monday at the Ethical Society of Philadelphia surrounded by parents, students and union boosters.

Dave Davies off mic: PSP-related political committee gives to Williams' campaign

By Dave Davies for NewsWorks on Feb 9, 2015 07:29 PM

The Philadelphia School Partnership, the nonprofit that last week offered the School District $25 million to expand charter schools, now has an affiliated political action committee that has donated $7,000 to the mayoral campaign of State Sen. Anthony Williams of Philadelphia.

Mark Gleason, executive director of PSP, says his organization has focused on investing in schools and lobbying for change in Harrisburg. But it saw a need to affect the political process directly "because many of the policies that hold back Philadelphia schools and schools around the commonwealth are state policies."

SRC to vote on 39 charter applications next week, invites public comment

By Laura Benshoff for NewsWorks on Feb 9, 2015 04:53 PM

After a last-minute effort to put off the vote until June 1, Philadelphia's School Reform Commission announced it will decide on all 39 charter applications at a special meeting Feb. 18. That meeting is set for 3:30 p.m. at the Philadelphia School District headquarters.

Last week, the District emailed all the charter applicants requesting a four-month deadline extension due to an "unprecedented" number of applications.

Overbrook High School could have a biology teacher by Friday

By Dale Mezzacappa and Allison Welton on Feb 9, 2015 04:50 PM

And why is this news? Don't all high schools have biology teachers?

Actually, no, not in Philadelphia or some other cash-strapped districts that have problems recruiting enough certified teachers for certain subjects.

In the past, unfortunately, this kind of situation was taken for granted in schools that served mostly low-income students of color. Something called biology class, maybe with a substitute teacher, was slapped together and students who did enough work got credit for it.

District official runs PAC once associated with Williams

By Dave Davies for NewsWorks on Feb 9, 2015 02:04 PM

How weird is this? The political committee formed early in 2013 to support the exploratory effort of mayoral candidate State Sen. Anthony Williams is now headed by a full-time employee of the Philadelphia School District.

The Philadelphia Daily News' Solomon Leach reported Saturday that the Believe Again PAC is headed by the District's government affairs director, Rodney Oglesby.

Pa. school funding formula roadshow hits Montgomery County

By Sara Hoover for NewsWorks on Feb 6, 2015 02:10 PM

How to fund Pennsylvania's schools is a hot topic. The state's Basic Education Commission is traveling statewide to hear from stakeholders as it works on a new formula for distributing the money.

African American book fair celebrates 23 years of encouraging readers

By Shannon Nolan on Feb 6, 2015 12:10 PM

For Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati, organizer and founder of the upcoming African American Children's Book Fair, giving kids an opportunity to read outside of their classroom and connect with the books they read is the best way to enhance their reading skills.

“In my grandfather’s generation, [reading] was a privilege,” Lloyd-Sgambati said. “In mine, it’s a right.”

That’s why, in 1992, Lloyd-Sgambati first organized the African American Children’s Book Fair out of the John Wanamaker department store in Philadelphia. Now, the fair has grown into one of the largest events for African American children’s literature across the country, attracting over 3,000 attendees annually.

Lawmakers propose 8 percent shale tax to help schools, pensions, environment

By Laura Benshoff for NewsWorks on Feb 6, 2015 10:15 AM

Pennsylvania is the only major gas-producing state that doesn't tax extraction -- beyond a relatively small impact fee.

Some Republicans and Democrats are calling that a lost opportunity in a state looking at a $2.3 billion deficit and school funding that has been drastically cut.

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