by James H. Lytle
The School District announced last week that its budget for next year would be cut by 25 percent. When coupled with the nearly 20 percent reductions the two previous years, school resources will have shrunk by at least 40 percent.
Next year, according to Superintendent William Hite, schools will have principals and teachers, and that's about it. No secretaries, no counselors, no music, art, sports, or extracurriculars. Definitely no afterschool programs. In these stripped-down conditions, every classroom would be filled to the maximum of 30 to 33 students.
That means schools, staffed at the lowest levels in 50 years, will still be accountable for meeting the performance standards that continue to grow ever more demanding.
To Lori Shorr, among the most interesting things about the PSD’s long-awaited organizational chart is the expiration date stamped on top: “Through January 2, 2013.”
That reminds Shorr, who is Mayor Nutter’s chief education officer, that when it comes to internal organization, the District remains very much in wait-and-see mode. New Superintendent William Hite is in the midst of what officials call his “90-day review,” after which he is expected to establish specific priorities for his administration, which may include additional internal reorganization.
“If he’s going to do big organizational change, he’s going to do it in January,” Shorr said.
This week's guest commentary about changes in the Philadelphia school landscape is from James M. "Torch" Lytle, a former Philadelphia administrator and Trenton superintendent, now a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education. The Notebook invites guest blog posts on current topics in Philadelphia education from its readers. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to make a submission.
The School Reform Commission on Tuesday officially hired Dr. William Hite as superintendent, effective Oct. 1, at an annual salary of $300,000.
All five members voted in favor of the five-year contract, which will pay Hite $50,000 more than he receives as superintendent of the 125,000-student school district in Prince George's County, Md., but $48,000 less than former Superintendent Arlene Ackerman.
Incoming Superintendent William Hite is set to begin working in Philadelphia "a couple days a week," but there's still no official word on when he will assume the troubled School District's top job on a full-time basis.
The appointment of William Hite as our new superintendent has won praise from many in education circles. His performance in meetings with stakeholders, his credentials as an educator, high marks from the teachers' union in Prince George’s County, and his apparent effectiveness as an administrator of a large, poor and financially troubled school district all worked to his favor, especially given the weakness of his competition.
By Benjamin Herold for the Notebook and WHYY/Newsworks
Former teacher, principal, and Prince George's County, Md., schools chief William Hite is the new superintendent of Philadelphia schools.
“Philadelphia is one of America’s greatest cities, and I am excited about the opportunities it offers,” said Hite in a statement released late Friday.
by Dale Mezzacappa, Benjamin Herold, and Katie McCabe
If hired as Philadelphia school superintendent, William R. Hite Jr. said, the first thing he would do is travel the city and listen; once, as the principal of a new middle school, he knocked on the doors of 660 of the incoming 800 students.
As he made the rounds in a day-long series of meetings Tuesday, Hite painted a picture of himself as an engaged and focused educator, which got a warm response from parents, teachers and community members.
For the first time in recent memory, Patrice Berrian-Marrujo felt that somebody in power was listening to her.
A classroom assistant for students with severe emotional problems at Levering Elementary in Roxborough, Berrian-Marrujo describes herself as a "low-level employee" in the School District of Philadelphia.
But she is passionate about her work, and she is concerned about what the District's recent proposal to close Levering will mean for her students. So on a crisp November Saturday, she joined roughly 100 other parents, students, and teachers at a community meeting at Roxborough High School to discuss the District's plans.