by Benjamin Herold for NewsWorks, a Notebook news partner
Even as funding for Pennsylvania public schools has dwindled, the cost of sending students to independent, online charter schools has risen in more than three-quarters of Pennsylvania's 500 traditional school districts.
In many of those districts, the mounting financial impact of these "cyber charters" has been dramatic over the last four years. This had led to calls for the state legislature to rethink the rules for such schools.
In June, the District will close 24 schools for good, displacing about 14,000 students. Since the School Reform Commission voted in March in favor of the closings, many parents and students have been concerned about whether transition plans will go smoothly.
The Notebook asked the District’s Chief of Student Services Karyn Lynch, by email, for an update about the closings process regarding safety plans, teacher placement, student placement, and the preparation at receiving schools.
South Philadelphia High School principal Otis Hackney also gave his perspective about the safety concerns that some have expressed regarding Southern as the receiving school for Bok Technical, which is closing.
[Updated, 5/23 with additional reaction]
A report by a national nonprofit studying Philadelphia has concluded that the District does a poor job of hiring and assigning teachers, fails to effectively evaluate or support them, and overrelies on seniority to govern placement and layoffs.
The report, from the National Council on Teacher Quality, also said that Philadelphia pays salaries competitive with surrounding districts and most charter schools for the first 10 years, but then rapidly falls behind -- largely because the only way to get a raise after that, besides a negotiated percentage increase, is for a teacher to accumulate more graduate credits.
Former interim superintendent Phil Goldsmith warned members of City Council last week against taking the silver-bullet approach to fixing public schools. He also offered some of his own thoughts on what additional sources of revenue could be tapped to help the cash-poor School District.
by Holly Otterbein for NewsWorks
Philadelphia's Mayor Nutter wants to raise money for the cash-strapped School District, mostly through tax increases on alcohol and cigarettes. But he needs Harrisburg to pass legislation to make that a reality.
Members of the Philadelphia Orchestra know the vital role music can play in a young person's development. At the School Reform Commission meeting on May 15, Don Liuzzi, speaking on behalf of the Philadelphia Orchestra, where he is a timpanist, submitted a petition imploring the SRC not to let budget cuts deprive schools of the music and art programs that are essential to the development of students' self-expression and creativity as well as the future of the city's musical community.
by Matthew Grady for NewsWorks
Standing before hundreds of parents and students gathered in the Roxborough High School auditorium, Timothy Boyle, a math teacher at AMY Northwest, asked the audience about the basic tasks of school personnel.
"Who is going to meet with students to review their high school options for next year?" he asked.
"Counselors," the audience replied, also responding to questions regarding secretarial duties, lunch monitoring, and in-school discipline.
by Aaron Moselle and Zack Seward for NewsWorks
Cheering fans, cheerleaders, and mascots filled Temple University's Liacouras Center on Monday afternoon.
None of them was there for a game.
Instead, thousands of students, staff members and parents traveled to the North Philadelphia arena for Mastery Charter Schools' first-ever College Signing Day, an event patterned after National Signing Day for high school athletes.
by Brian Hickey for NewsWorks
As the final day of Germantown High School's 99-year history approaches — the Class of '13 will don caps and gowns on June 19 — NewsWorks will present a series of stories including interviews with grads and former students.
To launch the GHS series, NewsWorks is sharing excerpts from an interview with Bill Cosby, the actor and comedian who attended the school and failed out in the 10th grade, taking a shoe-repair job rather than repeat the year.
During a 20-minute phone interview in early May, Cosby made it perfectly clear why you didn't hear him get involved in the school-closing protests.