City Councilman Bill Green has long taken a special interest in the School District of Philadelphia, and a few years ago he laid out a detailed education agenda that, in essence, favored the abolition of the School Reform Commission, expansion of charters, and more parental choice.
Sources confirm that the councilman now would like to head the SRC and has spoken to members of Gov. Corbett's administration. One Harrisburg source said that Green is "definitely in the mix" as Corbett looks to fill the vacancy left by Pedro Ramos, who resigned for personal reasons. A second vacancy is expected when Commissioner Joseph Dworetzky's term expires in January. Dworetzky is a holdover appointment of former Gov. Ed Rendell.
In an interview, Green would not comment on whether he is interested in the SRC post or had talked to Corbett's team about it. However, he was willing to discuss education policy generally and clarify how his thinking has evolved since he released the policy papers on the School District in 2010 and 2011.
The School Reform Commission approved an amended charter for People for People Charter School on Thursday, allowing it to expand from a K-8 to a K-12 school, as long as it doesn't increase its total enrollment.
But two charters founded by June Brown, who is now on trial in federal court on charges of fraud, did not get SRC approval, although both were on the agenda.
Students from Youth United for Change continue their efforts to improve the quality of food served in school.
They took their case to the School Reform Commission meeting on Thursday night to publicly ask that students have a role in choosing a new provider for food that is prepared elsewhere and that the District set standards to require that at least 75 percent is fresh rather than frozen. YUC also wants rules for the request-for-proposal that will allow more companies to apply.
Back in August, the School Reform Commission suspended the state school code, using special powers it was granted by legislators when the state took over the District. Among the provisions suspended was one that prevented school districts from setting enrollment caps for charter schools.
But based on what the Pennsylvania Department of Education has done so far, it would seem that the code suspension -- designed to prevent unregulated charter growth that officials say would seriously impede the District's ability to plan financially -- has not had any effect.
After the SRC voted to suspend the code, Deputy Superintendent Paul Kihn sent warning letters to charter schools that the District says have enrolled too many students, saying the schools should no longer seek direct payment from PDE. He also threatened charters that continue to "overenroll" with non-renewal or revocation.
The District and state, however, don't appear to be on the same page regarding this issue. Since the suspension, PDE has continued to pay charter schools directly for expenses that the schools claim they are owed and that the District refused to reimburse.
With the $45 million in state aid released by Gov. Corbett, Superintendent William Hite has restored 40 additional positions to schools.
Nearly half of those -- 19 -- are assistant principals. The 40 positions are in addition to 80 counselors that were restored earlier.
The Notebook calculates that with each position costing about $100,000 (the assistant principals cost closer to $150,000 each, including salaries and benefits), the restored professionals in the schools will eat up between $12 million and $15 million of the $45 million. The District has yet to provide a breakdown.