by Holly Otterbein for NewsWorks
[Updated: 7:07 p.m.]
Your next debaucherous night of drinking and smoking might help close the Philadelphia School District's enormous budget gap.
Philadelphia's Mayor Nutter is proposing to increase the liquor-by-the-drink tax and create a brand-new $2 tax on every pack of cigarettes in order to help fund the schools.
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.
by Benjamin Herold for NewsWorks, a Notebook news partner
Saying it’s time for Gov. Corbett to relieve the pain caused by massive cuts in state aid to public education over the last two years, Mayor Nutter and a coalition of District, charter and Catholic schools are making a push in support of the School Reform Commission’s request for $120 million in additional state aid for city schools.
“What’s happening at the school level doesn’t lie,” said Lori Shorr, the mayor’s chief education officer. “Talk to parents in a charter school or a District-managed school. They understand what the cuts have meant.”
Nutter, along with the Great Schools Compact, is calling on Corbett and the state legislature to increase the state’s basic education subsidy, restore state reimbursements to districts for money they spend on charter schools and adopt a “student-based funding formula” as a long-term solution to the District’s chronic budget woes.
by Zachary Lax
I am a second-year high school teacher who is proud to serve the students of the School District of Philadelphia. I am also among the many members of our community whose school will be closed. I know that my colleagues, my students, and their parents share my sense of dismay and betrayal over the final decision by the School Reform Commission -- and by extension their appointers, Mayor Nutter and Gov. Corbett -- to ignore our pleas.
Late last month, the Notebook interviewed Mayor Michael Nutter on the topic of school closings. The School District, in December, announced a plan to close 37 schools. Since then, the District has held many community and individual school meetings where the dominant reaction has been opposition and anger. The School Reform Commission is now planning to make a decision March 7, after a round of hearings from Thursday evening, Feb. 21, through Saturday, Feb. 23.
Here are some highlights from the interview:
Following is an edited transcript of the interview.
Mayor Nutter has named parent activist Sylvia Simms to replace Lorene Cary on the School Reform Commission.
Simms, who was a District bus attendant for 15 years, said she was "honored," "excited," and "surprised" by the appointment.
In a statement, Nutter said that Simms "will bring an incredibly important and unique perspective to educational advocacy" to the SRC.
by Charlotte Pope
It’s not always easy for a homeless student to push past the stigma and focus on academics.
To increase understanding about the barriers to educational success for homeless students, Temple University's School of Social Work and the Children's Work Group held the Students Without a Home summit on Friday, where experts discussed best practices for improving educational outcomes among homeless students.
The always daunting process of getting into high school has a new twist this year.
In a system where studies have found that parents are already befuddled by the process, students and their families have a dizzying array of high school choices – small schools, large schools, themed schools, charter schools, themed charter schools, neighborhood schools that have become charter schools – the list goes on.
The District has announced that SRC member Lorene Cary is taking a leave of absence due to what is described as a "temporary" illness. Doctors said that she needed to rest so it doesn't become chronic.
The leave is effective next Monday.
By Benjamin Herold
for NewsWorks, a Notebook news partner
Mayor Nutter and Pennsylvania State Sen. Anthony WIlliams joined more than a hundred Philadelphians on Wednesday night for a special advance screening of Won’t Back Down, a new movie about education reform that is provoking sharp criticism from teachers' unions.