In March, the School Reform Commission approved the following resolutions

· A $94 million deal for the purchase of 440 N. Broad Street, where the District next fall will consolidate its headquarters and administrative offices.

The resolution covers the purchase of the building and a “lease and asset purchase agreement” with the Archon Group for interior “fit-out” improvements that include a first-floor training/conference center. Also approved was a $1.2 million contract authorizing the purchasing of furniture for 440 N. Broad. Commissioner Martin Bednarek was the sole vote against the building contract, expressing concerns about the project’s budget and contract provisions.

· Renewal of five-year charter agreements for the following charter schools: Richard Allen Preparatory, Russell Byers, Delaware Valley, Independence, Leadership Learning Partners, Mastery, People for People, Wakisha.

Singling out the academic struggles of Delaware Valley and Wakisha, Schools CEO Paul Vallas stressed that the renewal did not remove the schools from the threat of “corrective action,” a major restructuring of schools that for five consecutive years fail to make their targets for “Adequate Yearly Progress,” as required by No Child Left Behind.

· Approval of the application to open the Folk Arts Cultural Treasures Charter School, an elementary school to serve the Chinatown community and sponsored by Asian Americans United.

This resubmitted proposal, with scores of supporters on hand to back several speakers testifying on its merits, overcame opposition from officials of the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corp. and supporters of Holy Redeemer Chinese Catholic School, located in Chinatown.

· $37 million authorization for the construction of the new, Microsoft-partnered High School of the Future, at 4021 Parkside Ave. Awardees: Daniel J. Keating Co. of Narberth, $20 million for construction; A. T. Chadwick Co., Inc. of Bensalem, $6 million for mechanical work; Royal Mechanical, Inc. of Folcroft, $1.9 million for mechanical (plumbing); E. J. Electric, Inc. of Philadelphia, $7.7 million for electrical; Oliver Sprinkler Co. of King of Prussia, $1.4 million for mechanical (fire protection).

Following up on a question by Commissioner James Nevels concerning naming rights for the school, Commissioner James Gallagher sought a District policy on school naming, including financial and criteria considerations.

· $746,000 grant acceptance from the William Penn Foundation for the Parent Leadership Academy.

According to the District, the Academy aims to help parents become more effective partners in their child’s education, to educate parents on District initiatives, and assist parents with parenting skills, career enhancement, leadership and advocacy skills. Open for participation by parents in all nine District regions, it will be piloted in the South, East and Central regions.

· $300,000 contract with SchoolWorks to provide “consultative services” through June 30 to two transitional high schools, Bartram Human Services and Bartram Motivation.

This resubmitted proposal is one of four contracts to private firms who will serve as “transition managers” at small high schools as part of the District’s Small Schools Transition Project. Others approved previously were Princeton Review, ResulTech, and Kaplan K12 Learning.

In other SRC news . . .

The School Reform Commission adopted a $1.93 billion "lump sum" budget for 2005-06.

The lump sum budget is a framework for the coming year’s operating budget to be approved by May 31. The budget is balanced but allows for an increase in spending of less than 1 percent compared to this year. Acting Chief Financial Officer Wayne Harris, who described it as "primarily a maintenance budget," explained, "We managed to have a balanced budget without having to step back from any SRC initiatives."

the notebook

Our news is free to read, but not to report.

support local journalism