In a district roiled by budget cuts and layoffs, the new principal at Henry Lea Elementary is counting on a network of community supporters to help keep the West Philadelphia school on an even keel.
“The cuts are probably going to be the biggest challenge. How do you function, as a building, with less than we’ve ever had?” said Jennifer Duffy, a former District administrator hired just last week to run the 600-student school.
But, she said, “This school, more than any others I looked at, has a tremendous network.”
by Mark McHugh
Student safety inside and outside the classroom has been a community concern as the District works on the transitions for students from 24 closing schools in the midst of a profound budget crisis. In response, Town Watch Integrated Services (TWIS) is spearheading an initiative called WalkSafePHL, intended to ensure the safety of students travelling to and from school.
The effort was the subject of a press conference Friday morning involving Mayor Michael Nutter, Superintendent William Hite, and Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Cynthia Dorsey. They are billing the campaign as “the city's strategy for ensuring students are able to travel safely to and from school this fall.”
With the new school year just about a month away, parents and students will prepare by attending the District’s Family and Education Reunion, better known in past years as the Back to School Expo or Extravaganza.
The event will be held on Friday, August 9, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the High School of the Future, 4021 Parkside Avenue. Thousands of parents, students, and community members will converge on the school grounds for a day filled with food, educational workshops, interactive activities, entertainment, and lots of giveaways, including the perennial favorite, free book bags, donated this year by Office Depot. According to the District, about 6,000 of the bags will be given out along with other school supplies.
This guest blog post comes from Aaron Troisi, a board member of the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools.
With the School District cutting programs and closing neighborhood schools, the city’s children may soon receive some educational assistance from an unlikely source – Philadelphia’s hip-hop community.
Hip Hop Fundamentals, a local group of dancers who use breakdancing to teach academic content, are gearing up to tour their empowering “Civil Rights Movements” assembly to 10 neighborhood public schools at no cost to the local schools. But first they have to raise some money.
For parents hoping to enroll their children in kindergarten at the coveted Penn Alexander Elementary School in West Philadelphia, it's been a roller-coaster weekend.
Now many are hoping a Tuesday morning meeting with Superintendent William Hite will pave the way for a comprehensive solution that guarantees admission to the school to all children living within its attendance zone.
"I believe that everyone in the community wants that to happen and believes that is what's fair," said Mariana Farach, the mother of a Penn Alexander first grader.
After dozens of parents had already camped out in the freezing cold for the better part of a day outside the Penn Alexander school, District officials decided to change the process and conduct a lottery to determine who would get a coveted spot in September's kindergarten class.
"We're making the change for equity and safety," said Karyn Lynch, the District's chief of student services. She said that a lottery would "bring fairness to the process," and that officials had "great concern about people remaining outside for three days in cold weather."
By Friday afternoon, 68 people were lined up outside the school in freezing weather, hoping for one of the 72 kindergarten seats. The first parent arrived early Friday morning, setting off a scramble. Registration starts Tuesday morning and was on a first-come, first-serve basis.
by Charlotte Pope
The School District has begun to roll out a new system for responding to poor classroom performance, bad behavior, and truancy in students.
The West Philadelphia Parent and Family Resource Center, in collaboration with the School District of Philadelphia’s Parent University, held the second of four parent workshops Thursday to introduce a new system called RtII, or Response to Instruction and Intervention.
by Bill Hangley, Jr.
With the shadow of dozens of possible school closures looming in the background, a group of public school advocates has formally filed an ethics complaint challenging the legitimacy of the dramatic reform plan developed for the School District of Philadelphia by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and the William Penn Foundation.
Notebook readers can still find the bimonthly print publication at 750 distribution sites throughout the city, including all District and charter schools. But to increase access to the paper, the Notebook has contracted with the delivery company CCN to set up honor boxes at strategic spots on the streets around town.
Este otoño los defensores de la educación trabajaron para asegurar que se tomara en cuenta la opinión de la comunidad en la discusión sobre el futuro de las escuelas de Filadelfia: la Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS) llevó a cabo dos foros y circuló una encuesta dirigida a padres, educadores, estudiantes y otros que apoyan la educación pública.