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At the SRC

At the SRC . . .

At its April meetings, the School Reform Commission

  • Voted unanimously to approve Imagine 2014, the District’s five-year strategic plan, with a number of late modifications. District Chief Business Officer Michael Masch said the plan will cost $126 million in the first year, with the price tag for the remaining four years still to be determined. Prior to the vote, Mayor Michael Nutter, Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, and State Representative Dwight Evans (on video) spoke in support of the plan. More than a dozen registered speakers expressed concerns, including members of the youth organizing groups Philadelphia Student Union and Youth United for Change.  Among more than 40 initiatives in Phase I of the plan are $32.5 million to hire an additional 367 teachers to reduce class sizes in K-3 grades; $18.5 million to provide additional guidance counselors; $4.9 million to expand early-childhood programs, and $2.38 million to begin turning over 10 failing schools to outside management organizations or reopen them as charters in fall 2010.

  • Unveiled the District’s $3.2 billion FY2010 consolidated budget. The budget builds on an anticipated $5.3 million surplus rolled over from fiscal year 2009, which ends June 30, and projects a net growth of $314 million in expenditures in 2009-10, an unprecedented increase of 11 percent, thanks to federal stimulus funds. A series of public meetings for input will be held before the SRC’s final adoption of the budget on May 27.  

  • Inducted two new commissioners appointed by Mayor Nutter: Robert L. Archie, a partner at Duane Morris, L.L.P., and Johnny Irizarry, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Hispanic Excellence: La Casa Latina. Archie, who assumed the role of chairman, and Irizarry join SRC commissioners Heidi A. Ramirez and Denise McGregor Armbrister. Governor Rendell’s latest nominee, Joseph Dworetzky, a partner at Hangley Aronchick, will round out the five-member body upon approval by the state Senate.

  • Heard the annual report from the Accountability Review Council (ARC), an independent organization that measures the District’s progress on reform. The ARC had commissioned Research for Action to complete a study of best practices in middle and high schools. ARC Chair James E. Lyons Sr. said that more early-grade students were meeting or exceeding proficiency levels in reading and math. Despite progress, Lyons said areas of continued concern include the achievement gap between minority and non-minority students, and the low performance of high school students in general.

  • Voted to negotiate over $57 million in contracts for alternative education and “multiple pathway” programs over the next three years. Both new and established outside providers will operate programs serving up to 6,580 students per year. “Transition programs” will serve students in grades 3-12 who have committed Level 2 violations of the Code of Student Conduct or who are returning from court-adjudicated placement. “Accelerated schools” will continue to focus on students who are overage, under-credited, have dropped out, or are at risk of dropping out. “Oasis schools” will operate inside comprehensive high schools, targeting students returning from dropping out or at risk of dropping out. An “APEX program” will serve students who are formally expelled from the District. Approved providers include The Big Picture Company, Camelot Schools of Pennsylvania, Communities in Schools, Community Education Partners, Abraxas Education Group, International Education and Community Initiatives (IECI), Ombudsman Inc., Opportunities Industrialization Centers of America (OIC), Unique Education Experience Inc. (Delaware Valley High School), and Youth Empowerment Services (YES).

  • Voted to initiate a three-year, $21,479,299 contract with CTB/McGraw-Hill for a number of benchmark assessments, including those at all assessed grade levels that predict performance on the PSSA in reading and math. CTB/McGraw-Hill will also provide other related services, including supplying all operational aspects of online and paper-and-pencil test administrations. The resolution continues the expansion of the District’s benchmark assessment program.

  • With 22 expulsions up for consideration, voted to expel 17 students.

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