State Sen. Mike Stack (D., Phila.) announced a package of five bills today that would give the city more power to go after tax deadbeats.
The School District is counting on collecting an additional $28 million next fiscal year from delinquent taxes to help balance its budget, which faces a $300 million hole. Mayor Nutter included the figure in his plan to help the District balance its budget.
The legislation, Stack said, would not only help the School District but help stabilize the city's financial future. Philadelphia's collection rate, especially of property taxes, lags behind most other big cities.
by Tom MacDonald for NewsWorks
Philadelphia's lone Republican state representative, John Taylor, says it's unlikely that Mayor Nutter will get either the new school funding or taxing authority he's seeking from Harrisburg.
Nutter is backing the School District's request for an additional $120 million in direct school funding from the state, and he wants legislation enabling the city to levy a $2-a-pack tax on cigarettes and raise the liquor-by-the-drink tax from 10 percent to 15 percent.
An analysis of the District's budget crisis. CBS Philly
Caution and the Common Core. NY Times
At Thomas Mifflin Elementary School in East Falls on Thursday, the rain clouds held off long enough for rallygoers to support the District's request to the city and state for a total of $180 million in increased funding for Philadelphia's schools. The rally was organized by the Friends of Mifflin School, a school-focused community group, one of many such groups to have formed in recent years.
Video by Amy Yeboah
This commentary originally appeared on Keystone Politics and is reprinted with the permission of the author.
by Susan Spicka
My daughters just finished up their ninth day of PSSA testing in their elementary school. They will spend 5 percent of their school year filling in bubbles, and this doesn’t include the weeks of class dedicated to working on test prep before these very stressful testing days. My 5th grader cried every night before she had a test, worrying that if she didn’t do well, her school would not make AYP.
As a parent, I am very troubled by the impact that these high-stakes tests have on Pennsylvania’s children and on the public education they receive.
I have friends who chose to opt their children out of the PSSAs this year. They did not do this because they oppose the use of educational standards or testing. They opted their children out of Pennsylvania’s high-stakes tests because these tests are hurting our children and our schools.
See also: Charters join Hite in seeking aid. Inquirer
Eagles honored more than 100 student-athletes this month. South Philly Review
by Benjamin Herold for NewsWorks, a Notebook news partner
Even as funding for Pennsylvania public schools has dwindled, the cost of sending students to independent, online charter schools has risen in more than three-quarters of Pennsylvania's 500 traditional school districts.
In many of those districts, the mounting financial impact of these "cyber charters" has been dramatic over the last four years. This had led to calls for the state legislature to rethink the rules for such schools.
In June, the District will close 24 schools for good, displacing about 14,000 students. Since the School Reform Commission voted in March in favor of the closings, many parents and students have been concerned about whether transition plans will go smoothly.
The Notebook asked the District’s Chief of Student Services Karyn Lynch, by email, for an update about the closings process regarding safety plans, teacher placement, student placement, and the preparation at receiving schools.
South Philadelphia High School principal Otis Hackney also gave his perspective about the safety concerns that some have expressed regarding Southern as the receiving school for Bok Technical, which is closing.
Who’s still killing Philly schools? City Paper
[Updated, 5/23 with additional reaction]
A report by a national nonprofit studying Philadelphia has concluded that the District does a poor job of hiring and assigning teachers, fails to effectively evaluate or support them, and overrelies on seniority to govern placement and layoffs.
The report, from the National Council on Teacher Quality, also said that Philadelphia pays salaries competitive with surrounding districts and most charter schools for the first 10 years, but then rapidly falls behind -- largely because the only way to get a raise after that, besides a negotiated percentage increase, is for a teacher to accumulate more graduate credits.
On a day that saw the closing of 49 schools in Chicago, it seems sadly fitting that Philadelphia is kicking off three days as the host city of the U.S. Conference of Mayors' national meeting on innovation.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors embraces controversial education reform trends that are spreading across the nation's cities: mayoral control of schools, parent trigger laws, charter co-location, and mass school closings. As head of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Mayor Nutter has supported the organization's call to bring a number of those reforms, particularly mass charter expansion and mass school closings, to Philadelphia.
Although the theme for this meeting is innovation, Philadelphia has been anything but innovative when it comes to education reform.
Former interim superintendent Phil Goldsmith warned members of City Council last week against taking the silver-bullet approach to fixing public schools. He also offered some of his own thoughts on what additional sources of revenue could be tapped to help the cash-poor School District.
by Holly Otterbein for NewsWorks
Philadelphia's Mayor Nutter wants to raise money for the cash-strapped School District, mostly through tax increases on alcohol and cigarettes. But he needs Harrisburg to pass legislation to make that a reality.
See also: Report urges an end to automatic teacher tenure. CBS Philly
Penn students created a model for managing closed school buildings. AxisPhilly/PlanPhilly
Roxborough community rallies against proposed school cuts. Notebook/NewsWorks
See also: Roxborough community rallies against school budget cuts. Montgomery News
Mastery charter graduates revel in their college choices. Notebook/NewsWorks
Here's professional development that actually makes sense. Making the Grade
Members of the Philadelphia Orchestra know the vital role music can play in a young person's development. At the School Reform Commission meeting on May 15, Don Liuzzi, speaking on behalf of the Philadelphia Orchestra, where he is a timpanist, submitted a petition imploring the SRC not to let budget cuts deprive schools of the music and art programs that are essential to the development of students' self-expression and creativity as well as the future of the city's musical community.