by Bill Hangley Jr.
Day two of City Council’s education hearings was a long string of bleak predictions and passionate calls for funding from public school supporters faced with the prospect of what one parent called “trying to do the impossible with nothing.”
Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell called the day’s testimony “disheartening,” but gave little indication that she and her colleagues are eager to move on meeting the Philadelphia School District’s request for $60 million in additional funding.
The Philadelphia School District is vowing to take a hard line on two issues that have caused confusion when charter operators take over traditional public schools: special education and facilities costs.
Even as the District tries to convert three more of its schools into charters, officials and parents alike are wading through confusion over “exceptions” that past administrations granted to outside managers in previous years of the District’s Renaissance school turnaround initiative.
Superintendent William Hite has hired Matthew E. Stanski as chief financial officer for the School District. Stanski worked in that position in the Prince George's County school district when Hite was head of the schools there.
I’ve been living in this area since 1951, spending more than 50 years as a reporter, first for The Bulletin and then for The Inquirer. My most rewarding years were as The Bulletin’s education reporter in the 1950s. It was an exciting time with reform in the air and since The Inquirer and Daily News paid little attention to education, I had the field to myself. I worked hard and was on the front page with school stories several days a week.
By Benjamin Herold
for NewsWorks, a Notebook news partner
In order to close up to one-fifth of the city's traditional public schools by the fall of 2013, Philadelphia District officials are considering some dramatic steps, including a move away from assigning students to schools based on their home address.
By Dale Mezzacappa and Benjamin Herold
The School District released a 119-page document on Thursday that summarized the analyses and recommendations of the Boston Consulting Group, an outside firm retained at private expense to help the District avert a financial meltdown by radically overhauling its business operations and delivery of education.
The document details BCG’s work and thinking on hot-button topics ranging from charter expansion to labor negotiations. It also includes the previously unreleased analyses behind controversial District proposals to close dozens of schools and reorganize those that are left into decentralized, independently managed “achievement networks.”
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.
The William Penn Foundation has paid more than $160,000 for work being done by two private communications firms to support the School Reform Commission’s much-debated “transformation blueprint.”
It's just one of several efforts undertaken by the city's civic leaders on behalf of the cash-strapped District that was revealed by a review of William Penn's recent grants.
The organizations doing the communications work, Sage Communications and the Bravo Group, are being paid through William Penn funds that have been passed through the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania and the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, respectively. Each grant was for $82,500, the maximum allowable without the approval of William Penn’s board, which meets three times a year.
By Katie McCabe
The School Reform Commission voted Monday to outsource the three top management positions in its transportation department, but recessed until Wednesday to allow more time for talks with the labor union representing bus drivers, mechanics, and other blue-collar workers whose jobs could be facing a similar fate.
The Boston Consulting Group has identified up to 60 Philadelphia school buildings as potential candidates for closure and helped line up private vendors willing to replace the School District’s unionized blue-collar workforce at a $50 million discount.
These steps are just part of the blue-chip consulting firm’s far-ranging behind-the-scenes effort to help the beleaguered city school system rethink how it does business.
The broad scope of BCG’s efforts this spring are detailed in previously unreleased “statements of work” obtained by the Notebook/NewsWorks under Pennsylvania’s Right to Know law.
Read the documents: