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District employee charged with steering $1 million contract to friends and family

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on May 27, 2015 08:05 PM

A Philadelphia grand jury has recommended criminal charges against Priscilla Wright, 50, who until January was the Philadelphia School District's manager of small business development.

In 2013, as the city reeled from the closure of 23 public schools, the grand jury alleges, Wright used her influence to take advantage of the situation.

Paying tribute to a 'force of nature'

By Dale Mezzacappa on May 27, 2015 03:18 PM

Ed Rendell's favorite story about Marciene Mattleman is – well, it is about the same as Michael Nutter's favorite story. Stories always told with affection.  

Mostly, they go like this: She would call on a Monday with her latest big idea. The mayor would politely say "no" and gently hang up. 

But that was not the end of it. She would keep calling.

GOP prosecutors bolster Wolf's case for more pre-K funding

By Ben Allen for NewsWorks on May 27, 2015 11:09 AM

Several district attorneys in Pennsylvania are standing behind Gov. Wolf's proposal to invest more money in early childhood education.

What is a millage rate, and how does it affect school funding?

By Connie Langland on May 27, 2015 09:00 AM

What is a millage rate?

Millage is a term that represents the tax rate levied on real estate or other property. A mill is one thousandth of a dollar, or one tenth of one cent.

The millage rate is the number of dollars of tax assessed for each $1,000 of property value. A rate of 10 mills means that $10 in tax is levied on every $1,000 in assessed value.

Council talks budgets, penmanship with District

By Laura Benshoff for NewsWorks on May 27, 2015 08:56 AM

It's budget season, and the School District of Philadelphia is making the rounds to seek money for the coming school year.

District officials appeared before City Council on Tuesday to ask for recurring funds, to the tune of about $100 million a year, to help them achieve long-term strategic plans. In response, City Council asked for more information about how the District had spent past budget contributions, as well as grilling the educators about penmanship.

Hite, SRC make pitch to City Council

By Dale Mezzacappa on May 26, 2015 03:00 PM

The annual ritual of District officials appearing before City Council began on Tuesday.

School Reform Commission Chair Marjorie Neff told the lawmakers that "our fiscal house is now in order."

School officials make their money pitch Tuesday to City Council

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on May 26, 2015 09:50 AM

The School District of Philadelphia will make its case for additional revenue before City Council on Tuesday morning.

District officials will urge Council to agree to Mayor Nutter's proposed 9.4 percent property tax hike.

Rather than appeal, KIPP changed pitch for new charter school

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on May 26, 2015 09:48 AM

It's kind of like when a teacher allows you to correct your test and resubmit it for a grade.

There was fervent public debate about the possibility of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission approving a slate of new charter schools in February.

Can Jim Kenney bring community schools to Philadelphia?

By Laura Benshoff for NewsWorks on May 22, 2015 12:31 PM

On a small plot of land wedged between South Philadelphia High School's parking lot and the sidewalk, Arielle Narva works with a 17-year-old named Kahlil to turn over soil in raised garden beds.

"This bed that Kahlil is working on right now, he's kind of prepping it so we can plant tomatoes, hot peppers, all that summery stuff," said Narva.

Why are teachers' pension plans in trouble?

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on May 22, 2015 11:00 AM

In the Multiple Choices podcast, Keystone Crossroads senior education writer Kevin McCorry joins with Paul Socolar, publisher and editor of the Public School Notebook, and Notebook contributing editor Dale Mezzacappa to explain and explore the history, complexities and controversies of public education funding in Pennsylvania.

The state runs two public employee pension plans that share a parallel narrative. One plan is for teachers and school employees, called PSERS. The second is for other state workers, called SERS — which, in addition to rank-and-file state employees, covers state troopers, lawmakers, judges, top executive branch officials and state university staff members.

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