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The Notebook's latest news posts.

Parents react to news of Wister's planned charter conversion

By Connie Langland on Oct 6, 2015 05:18 PM

Parents from John Wister Elementary School have mixed opinions about the prospect of big changes at the school, but several who were interviewed agreed on a key point: Wister is a fixture in the Germantown neighborhood and should remain open.

On Thursday, Superintendent William Hite proposed closing some schools, creating others, and turning three elementary schools -- Wister, Jay Cooke in Logan and Samuel Huey in West Philadelphia -- over to charter management. Decisions about which operators will take over the schools, the District says, will be made after a lengthy process involving community meetings and extensive parental input.

In interviews Friday morning, a day after the plan was announced, parents barely had time to digest the news. Three of six said they had heard nothing about it.  

Still, most said they would keep an open mind.

Audit finds fault with Pa. education agencies

By Mary Wilson for NewsWorks on Oct 6, 2015 04:43 PM

A new audit gives Pennsylvania's Department of Education poor marks for the way it deals with academically struggling schools and special employees.

The report, covering mid-2010 to mid-2015, finds that the agency failed to provide special help to most poor-performing schools unless it was expressly required by federal law.

Chester schools to seek special funding from Pa., cut charter payments

By Laura Benshoff for Newsworks on Oct 6, 2015 09:46 AM

In the midst of hearings to determine the fate of Chester Upland, arguably Pennsylvania's most financially distressed school district, representatives from the state and local charter schools held private negotiations on cutting charter school payments.

The fruits of those dealings are a compromise and a new financial recovery plan.

Wolf seeking bipartisan support ahead of Wednesday vote

By Mary Wilson for NewsWorks on Oct 5, 2015 02:58 PM

Gov. Wolf is attempting to reframe Pennsylvania's budget debate in preparation for a tax vote planned for Wednesday in the House.

Calling it a "once-in-a-generation vote," Wolf said Monday that he continues to try to cobble together support for broad-based tax increases.

Q&A: Giving your child a good start

By Dale Mezzacappa on Oct 5, 2015 12:59 PM

The Notebook interviewed Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, who is a Temple University psychology professor, director of the Infant Language Laboratory, and author of several books about how children learn. She offered tips for parents of young children regarding daycare, preschool, and activities to do at home.

Notebook: What should I look for in a pre-K or child care center?

Hirsh-Pasek: The first thing I look for in a pre-K is, “Is it safe?” You want to make sure there aren’t things literally swept under rugs, things that are accessible that shouldn’t be, things that look dangerous.

Convention center to host High School Fair this year

By Catherine Offord on Oct 5, 2015 12:05 PM

Philadelphia’s annual High School Fair will take place at the Convention Center on Friday, Oct. 16, and Saturday, Oct. 17.

The fair, presented by Great Philly Schools, is primarily for students in 7th and 8th grades looking to learn about their high school options, but it may also interest high school students thinking about transferring schools.

Arne Duncan to step down as ed. sec., John King to head up department

By Alyson Klein for Education Week on Oct 2, 2015 01:23 PM

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who pushed through an unprecedented level of change in K-12 education in his nearly seven years in office, has announced that he's stepping down in December.

John King, who is currently filling the duties of the deputy secretary of education, will head up the department as acting secretary until the end of the Obama administration.

Hite plan: More charter conversions, closings, turnarounds, and new schools

By Dale Mezzacappa of the Notebook and Kevin McCorry of NewsWorks on Oct 1, 2015 08:27 PM

Superintendent William Hite announced a package of recommendations Thursday that will turn over three additional elementary schools to outside charter providers, while closing two middle schools, Beeber in Wynnefield and Leeds in East Mount Airy. 

The plans, which officials said will impact 15 schools, also include the creation of two non-selective, inquiry-based schools: a high school in North Philadelphia and a middle school in Powelton.

District proposes sweeping changes for 15 schools

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Oct 1, 2015 11:11 AM

The School District of Philadelphia proposed a sweeping set of changes Thursday that would affect 5,000 students and 15 schools – changes that include openings, closings, and in-district and charter conversions.

Stalemate's cost to Pa. schools: $11 million and rising

By Mary Wilson for NewsWorks on Sep 30, 2015 10:30 AM

For more than a dozen school districts in Pennsylvania, the state budget impasse already has a cost: $11 million in interest payments just to stay open.

State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced the debtors' names Tuesday as part of his mission to deliver regular updates on how schools are faring as Harrisburg's gridlock stretches on. DePasquale said his office has already heard from more than half of the state's 500 school districts.

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