June 1 — 2:36 pm, 2005

At the SRC . . .

In May, the School Reform Commission approved the following:

· $1.95 billion operating budget
CEO Paul Vallas cites as highlights of the new budget the continued phasing out of middle schools and creation of more K-8 schools; creation of smaller high schools; completion of the standardized curriculum; and addition of gifted and high-achieving programs. A late addition was $300,000 for staffing and studies for the SRC.

· Waiving of the ‘Salvatore Amendment,’ making way for the closing of Comprehensive Early Learning Centers

The District is phasing out its 45 Comprehensive Early Learning Centers or CELCs, which provided full-day care to 1,400 children, and redirecting $26 million to new Bright Futures centers, providing a free school-day program over the next two years for up to 3,400 three- and four-year-olds. In response to protests about cuts in service, the School Reform Commission voted to try to secure partnerships to provide before- and after-school care at the Bright Futures centers and to explore options for rehiring displaced employees. Nineteen CELCs originally slated to close this month will remain open until July 31, to help accommodate displaced infant and toddler participants (who will be referred to private providers). Afterwards, 26 of the centers will serve currently enrolled three- and four-year-olds. Seven will close. Twelve will convert to Bright Futures or Head Start expansion. Seven new sites will be added.

· $625 million capital budget for 2005-06
Includes $143 million in new construction; $70 million in additions and renovations; $141 million in major renovations; $21 million in conversions; $28 million in athletic fields and gymnasiums; $4 million in science labs and multi-media centers; and $14 million in technology classroom modernization.

· $19.4 million to Keating Joint Venture for a new elementary school at G Street and Hunting Park Avenue.

· Acceptance of $250,000 state grant to support the Center City Academic Region

The grant will go towards marketing of schools in the newly established Center City Academic Region catchment area. Established in partnership with the Center City District and Central Philadelphia Commercial Development Corp., the initiative allows students in the region to enroll in their neighborhood school, as well as apply to schools in a “secondary” catchment area encompassing the entire region that spans Poplar Street to Washington Avenue, and river to river. It also helps fund a website and admissions counselor for some of the schools.

· Approval for Edison Schools to manage Hartranft and Huey schools for the 2005-06 and 2006-07 school years.
The District had operated the schools under its previous Office of Restructured Schools. The contract provides Edison $750 per student.

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