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Chester Upland can't pay its teachers -- but they're working anyway

By Laura Benshoff for Newsworks on Aug 28, 2015 10:55 PM

Teachers' union president Michele Paulick said she received some unwelcome news at the Chester Upland School District teacher convocation this week.

"Our superintendent, Gregory Shannon, read a letter from our receiver, Francis Barnes, that informed the teachers that there are no funds," said Paulick, who described feeling "shock, frustration and anger" at the news.

Commonwealth Court rules District can't force charters to cap enrollment

By Dale Mezzacappa on Aug 27, 2015 07:06 PM

Commonwealth Court ruled Thursday that the School Reform Commission lacks the power to impose enrollment caps on charter schools, a decision that hands a big victory to charters seeking to limit school districts' control of them.

The ruling throws another wrinkle into the School District of Philadelphia's ongoing effort to remain solvent. The District has maintained that unrestrained charter growth depletes its own limited funding and doesn't allow it to plan for its own schools..

District sued over translation services for families of students with disabilities

By Dale Mezzacappa on Aug 24, 2015 05:12 PM

The School District of Philadelphia is facing a lawsuit alleging that thousands of children are denied special education services due to a lack of translation and interpretation services for families that don’t speak English.

Wolf warns Chester Upland schools may not open without drastic interventions

By Kevin McCorry of NewsWorks and Dale Mezzacappa on Aug 18, 2015 08:10 PM

Without immediate action, Gov. Wolf said Tuesday, the Chester Upland School District will not be in a financial position to open its doors next month.

Wolf has a plan to rectify the situation, resting partly on the backs of area charter schools.

With school opening near, many city schools still have teacher vacancies

By Fabiola Cineas on Aug 13, 2015 08:03 PM

Under the pressure from administrative turnover and plunging PSSA results, school principals and high-level District officials have convened at Fels High School beginning last week to develop action steps for school improvement. And they brought their challenges with them.

Looming large is staffing uncertainty. Many of the District’s highest-needs schools are still scrambling to fill teacher vacancies. This comes on top of the continuing effects of counselor layoffs and other cutbacks.

Pa. starts seventh week without budget

By Mary Wilson for WHYY NewsWorks on Aug 12, 2015 10:51 AM

The engineers of the Pennsylvania budget impasse will sit down for another design meeting Wednesday afternoon.

The new fiscal year began July 1. Negotiations between the governor and top lawmakers have been held about once a week since then.

"We had productive discussion," said House Speaker Mike Turzai after a budget confab last month. "We really rolled up our sleeves."

CTE success stories: Precious Terry, culinary arts graduate

By Michaela Ward on Aug 11, 2015 07:14 PM

The Philadelphia School District’s career and technical education (CTE) programs give students an opportunity to choose a career path that best matches their interests and talents, while gaining hands-on training in high school. Many students who have participated in one of the District’s 41 CTE programs have transitioned to post-secondary institutions – college, university, or technical school -- and some have also gotten jobs in their chosen fields right out of high school.

School District sees big shakeup at the top, but principal turnover recedes

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Aug 10, 2015 05:26 PM

Winds of change have been blowing through the Philadelphia School District.

Several top administrators have announced their departures in the last few months.

In May, Chief Financial Officer Matt Stanski said he was leaving to take a similar post in the Montgomery County, Maryland, school district.

In July, Deputy Superintendent Paul Kihn resigned.

A few weeks later, Chief Academic Officer Donyall Dickey accepted a position as chief schools officer in Atlanta.

Summer activities for kids and families | Week of Aug. 10

By Greg Windle on Aug 10, 2015 05:17 PM

Families looking for affordable kids' activities in Philadelphia have a lot to be excited about this week. The Oval is hosting events nearly every day, and there will be outdoor music festivals all week, culminating in the Indian and Caribbean festivals at Penn’s Landing this weekend. The city also has free movie screenings, art classes, and biking and soccer lessons.


The Lillian Marrero Branch of the Free Library is hosting a free Graphic Novels and Comics discussion group for kids ages 12-17 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. The group will also have an opportunity to draw with supplies provided by the library. The branch is at 601 W. Lehigh Ave.

Overall Pa. graduation rates respectable, but some urban districts lagging

By Fabiola Cineas on Aug 10, 2015 10:16 AM

With a statewide four-year high school graduation rate of 86 percent, Pennsylvania ranks 15th in the nation.

But the Pennsylvania Department of Education data from the 2012-13 academic year, the latest year available, also show that most of the Commonwealth’s urban districts lag well behind that average.

District's Charter Schools Office gets a permanent head

By Dale Mezzacappa on Aug 4, 2015 09:51 AM

After more than two years without a permanent leader, the School District's Charter Schools Office has a new executive director -- DawnLynne Kacer, who most recently had a similar job in New York City.

Kacer, who will start her job on Aug. 14, has a background in education and health policy. Before serving as the executive director of charter evaluation and policy, she was the New York district's senior director of strategy and policy and a resident at the Broad Institute for Educational Leadership.

Text messaging: A proven strategy for parental engagement

By Fabiola Cineas on Jul 30, 2015 12:24 PM

It was near the end of the school year, and parent Heather McFadyen thought her honor-roll son Jonathon was doing fine as he cruised toward finishing 8th grade at LaBrum Middle School in the Northeast. 

But then her phone lit up with a text message from his teacher, Sandra Knight.

Pa. early-childhood programs stretched to financial limit, study finds

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Jul 29, 2015 11:35 AM

Common sense might suggest that the best early-childhood programs would do better financially.

But a new study finds that providers in Southeastern Pennsylvania have little fiscal incentive to reach for high quality.

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