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Maryland developers see opportunity in closed school buildings

By Jared Brey for PlanPhilly on Jul 21, 2015 01:04 PM

A group of real estate investors from Bethesda, Maryland, are betting big on Philadelphia schools — the closed ones, anyway.

In the next few months, Concordia Group expects to close on a deal to purchase five school buildings put up for sale two years ago when the Philadelphia School District was trying to raise money through real estate sales. The former schools, in Pennsport, Point Breeze, Port Richmond and Germantown, had all been shut down. According to the School District, Concordia is expected to pay $6.8 million for the five buildings.

Philly region Republicans weigh in on severance tax, budget deadlock

By Laura Benshoff for NewsWorks on Jul 21, 2015 11:43 AM

Sweating under the midday sun, nine Republican lawmakers from Southeast Pennsylvania took Gov. Wolf to task on the steps of the Montgomery County Courthouse for what they called "campaign" tactics during budget negotiations.

As the state's budget deadlock stretches into its fourth week, the governor's administration and Republican legislators are each engaging in a campaign to sway public opinion about spending. In an unusual move, relatively moderate Republicans in the Philadelphia suburbs called out the governor for messaging that they say isn't fair.

Ethics Board fines teachers' union over contribution

By Dave Davies for NewsWorks on Jul 21, 2015 11:26 AM

The Philadelphia Board of Ethics has fined the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers $1,500 for contributions to City Council candidate Helen Gym in violation of the city's campaign finance law.

Political committees are permitted to give candidates for municipal office no more than $11,500 per year. The board found (and the PFT admitted) that the union's political committee gave Gym's campaign twice that, routing a second contribution through the committee of the American Federation of Teachers' Pennsylvania chapter.

Pa. educators brace for fallout from plunge in PSSA scores

By Dale Mezzacappa on Jul 20, 2015 01:50 PM

As districts across Pennsylvania brace for an anticipated plunge in scores on the state’s standardized test, educators are worrying about the repercussions while questioning the value of using the volatile test results to make high-stakes decisions about teachers and schools.

Districts and schools will not receive their preliminary results until the end of the month. But statewide data show that the proficiency rates of students on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment test have dropped precipitously, especially in math – in some grades by as much as 40 percentage points compared to last year.

Summer activities for kids and families | Week of July 20

By Greg Windle on Jul 20, 2015 10:52 AM

Looking for affordable summer activities for kids in Philadelphia? Here’s a great list of upcoming activities this week – free museum trips, outdoor movie screenings, music festivals, and more.

29 District schools to get new principals

By the Notebook on Jul 17, 2015 04:15 PM

For two tumultuous years, an alarming number of schools in the School District of Philadelphia opened with new principals at the helm. This year, there have been far fewer principal departures.

'Hunger doesn’t take a vacation'

By Samantha Weiss and Michaela Ward on Jul 17, 2015 02:00 PM

It’s lunchtime at the Gesu School summer camp, and Laura Weatherby, who leads the summer meal site there, calls up kids by class. Students file one by one to the front of the room to get their cartons of milk and boxed lunches. Today’s meal: carrots, an apple, a cheese stick, and a soy nut butter and jelly sandwich.

Weatherby carefully tallies the number of kids who take a box to make sure no one misses a lunch, provided free of charge to students.

How a school in a free-fire zone went from lockdown to hopes up

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Jul 16, 2015 08:06 PM

For many Philadelphia students, profound violence and trauma underlie the rhythms of daily life – making academic success all the more difficult.

In one Philadelphia school this year, though, students and faculty took to the streets in one of the city's most violent neighborhoods to demonstrate for peace.

They got results.

Germantown High football grad being considered for player-of-the-year award

By Brian Hickey for NewsWorks on Jul 16, 2015 05:02 PM

When William Parks attended Germantown High School, he was known as a leader in the classroom and on the football field. Considering that the school closed a year after Parks' 2012 graduation, he fills the role of the last great athlete to graduate from the 99-year-old institution.

Students at CHAD audit their school lunch program

By Fabiola Cineas on Jul 15, 2015 07:06 PM

Auditing a school’s lunch program is not a standard initiative for teenagers. Yet students from Philadelphia’s Charter High School for Architecture & Design (CHAD) became auditors for 10 weeks.

“It took a lot of hard work, but it was a great opportunity,” said De’ Juan Newton, an 11th grader at CHAD who played a large role in the project.

Philadelphia Student Union searches for new home

By Michaela Ward on Jul 15, 2015 04:22 PM

The Philadelphia Student Union has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to finance new office space.

In April, the youth advocacy group was evicted from its offices in University City.

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