Editor and director of the Notebook since 1999, Paul was one of the Notebook’s founders in 1994. He came to the Notebook as a public school parent with a long history of involvement in public education and other social justice issues. His children both graduated from Philadelphia public schools. He has been an active Home & School Association member and served as a parent representative on a School Council. Prior to becoming editor, he worked on education issues for the National Coalition of Education Activists and the American Friends Service Committee.
Philadelphia's public schools will open on time and – for the time being – mass layoffs will be averted.
Superintendent William Hite made the announcement Friday morning after a month during which he offered both options as a way to cover the District's $81 million budget gap.
The District is banking on the assurance of top Republican lawmakers in Harrisburg that Pennsylvania will pass legislation authorizing the $2-per-pack Philadelphia cigarette tax in mid-September.
If so, the District expects revenue collections will begin Oct. 1 and generate $49 million for the District this school year.
Flanked by four members of the School Reform Commission, Superintendent William Hite announced Friday morning that Philadelphia schools would open on time Sept. 8, but that another round of "difficult and hopefully temporary" cuts would be made to narrow the District's $81 million deficit.
Here are five key points about the School District's latest plan for dealing with its budget gap.
1. Temporary cuts and budget adjustments totaling $32 million were announced. These include discontinuing TransPasses for 7,500 high school students who live less than two miles from school, eliminating 300 slots in alternative programs for students at risk of dropping out, making 27 more elementary schools share police officers, reducing school cleaning and repairs, cutting extra professional development time at the District's Promise Academies, and eliminating some administrative positions. "These are cuts we want to treat as temporary," Hite said. "We want to restore them."
An education adviser to Gov. Corbett is stepping down from his post, weeks after a newspaper report found little evidence that he was working.
Ron Tomalis' resignation letter includes a list of his accomplishments as a special adviser on higher education in Pennsylvania. Those accomplishments were called into question by a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report last month that found little in schedule documents, phone logs, or interviews to suggest that Tomalis had been doing much in his job, which paid nearly $140,000 a year.
Decision day looms on the horizon.
In one week, the Philadelphia School District will announce its plans to deal with its $81 million budget gap.
Without additional funding, Superintendent William Hite says he will be forced to choose between two bad options: either lay off 1,300 staffers, mostly teachers, or save money by shortening the school year.
This could happen by opening schools late or closing early.
The School Reform Commission has a new member, Marjorie Neff, a longtime District principal who just retired from her post at the Masterman School. Mayor Nutter named her Friday to the SRC to replace Wendell Pritchett, who has served as a mayoral appointee since September 2011.
Pritchett, whose term runs until January 2017, submitted his resignation today. He recently returned to the University of Pennsylvania law school as a professor and interim dean after serving as chancellor of Rutgers University - Camden.