Local control of schools is finally here, and the real work is just beginning | Opinion
Inquirer by Jim Kenney & William Hite, For the Inquirer Updated: JUNE 29, 2018 5:00 AM
Jim Kenney is mayor of Philadelphia. Dr. William R. Hite is superintendent of the Philadelphia School District.
July 1 marks the beginning of a new chapter in Philadelphia’s history: governance of the School District of Philadelphia has been transferred to a locally appointed Board of Education. Returning the district to local control was the result of many years of impassioned advocacy from many Philadelphians. We have also reached this point because the district made tough choices during challenging times and worked hard to become financially stable while simultaneously making progress. Now schools are safer and attendance is up, as are graduation rates and academic performance. This return to local control doesn’t mean we’ve reached the finish line; in fact, we’re just getting started. But we’re optimistic for the future of our education system because getting this far allows the city and the district to strengthen our partnership and pave the way forward.
“The $10 million comes with no strings attached, meaning the state is not forcing the Allentown School District to go into financial recovery. Nor does the Allentown School District have to pay the state back. Raising taxes by 3.7 percent would bring in $3.3 million (an increase of $89 per single household). Last year, the district hiked taxes by 3.8 percent. A big expense for the school district is charter school tuition, which at $53 million next school year represents 14 percent of the district’s expenditures. By comparison, in 2011-12, Allentown paid $15.1 million in charter tuition.”
Allentown School Board passes balanced budget with 3.7 percent tax hike
Jacqueline Palochko Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call June 28, 2018
The Allentown School Board, initially facing a $28 million deficit, unanimously passed a $318 million balanced budget that cuts no positions but raises taxes by 3.7 percent. At Thursday’s school board meeting, school directors and Superintendent Thomas Parker expressed appreciation for state Sen. Pat Browne, R-Lehigh, and Reps. Peter Schweyer and Mike Schlossberg, both Allentown Democrats, who were instrumental in securing the extra $10 million for the district as part of a $32.7 billion 2018-19 state budget package signed by Gov. Tom Wolf last week. The additional $10 million, “allows the district to avoid crippling staff reductions,” board President Charlie Thiel said in a resolution thanking the local legislatures. Parker extended a “heartfelt thank you” to Browne, Schlossberg and Schweyer, along with state Department of Education Secretary Pedro Rivera for supporting the district.
“School Systems Leaders and the New Teachers Project are both spinoffs of TFA, and both function by staffing rank-and-file positions with TFA corps members or alumni. And they both receive funding from the same venture capitalist firm – the NewSchools Venture Fund.”
Bidder files legal action challenging Philly District procurement practices
The District is accused of ignoring its own procedures, as well as state and local bidding requirements.
The notebook by Greg Windle June 28 — 1:54 pm, 2018
SRC chair Estelle Richman and member Bill Green at a recent SRC meeting. (File photo)
In a dispute over a lucrative contract for principal coaching, a bidder has accused the District of ignoring its procurement procedures, as well as state and local bidding requirements. The company has filed a complaint in the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas demanding the District and school board agree to follow their own contracting procedure in the future to avoid undermining public confidence in the integrity of the process. In response, according to an email sent by Deputy General Counsel Miles Shore to the attorney for the complainant, the District is preparing to argue that it has no obligation to follow state law or enter into competitive bidding when it awards contracts for professional services, despite promising to do so in its procedures sent to bidders. The bidder, Joseph Merlino and his 21st Century Partnership for STEM Education, has also formally requested that the U.S. Department of Education investigate the matter, alleging that the District is out of compliance with federal bidding regulations that apply to contracts paid for with federal money. The contract in question was paid for, in part, by Title II funds – federal grants for teacher and principal development. Merlino is a longtime fixture on the Philadelphia education scene, specializing in math and science education consulting. This would have been his firm’s first foray into principal coaching.
Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite's report card: 4 As, 2 Bs
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer @newskag | firstname.lastname@example.org Updated: JUNE 28, 2018 — 5:57 PM EDT
In one of its last actions as the Philadelphia School District’s governing body, the School Reform Commission gave its superintendent a glowing report card, hailing William R. Hite Jr.’s “excellent leadership” in an evaluation released Thursday. If the SRC’s distinguished-to-failing scale was the same as a traditional letter-grade system, Hite would have received four A’s and two B;s for the 2017-18 school year. He earned top marks for systems leadership; operations and financial management; communications and community relations; and professionalism. He was “proficient,” the second-highest grade, for human resources management and student growth and achievement. It was his best evaluation to date. Hite became Philadelphia’s schools chief in 2012, and is now one of the longer-tenured schools chiefs in modern Philadelphia history. Both the departing SRC and the school board that will replace it next month have made it clear that his steady hand in the 200,000-student system is one of the reasons they feel confident in the district’s transition of governance.
In one of its final acts, SRC gives Hite a report card
He gets high marks across the board and a raise tied to what teachers are getting
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa June 28 — 3:03 pm, 2018
The School Reform Commission, days before it is scheduled to disband, gave Superintendent William Hite a report card calling his leadership “exceptional” and rating him “proficient” or “distinguished” in all areas. “Under Dr. Hite’s sound and stable guidance, the District has emerged from deeply challenging years, regained financial stability, returned to local control, and seen the beginning of district-wide academic growth,” said a statement released today accompanying the evaluation. Hite will get a salary increase for only the second time since he became superintendent in 2012. The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and the District went five years without a new teachers’ contract, during which teachers got no salary boosts. The stalemate was finally resolved in 2016. In 2015, Hite signed an extended contract through August 2022 that tied any future salary increase for himself to the average base salary increase for teachers. With the 1.927 percent increase, his annual salary is now $317,902.
Cumberland Valley withdraws bid to build school on protected farmland
Penn Live By Charles Thompson email@example.com Updated Jun 28, 1:34 PM; Posted Jun 28, 11:11 AM
Cumberland Valley School District is ending its quest to acquire farm property protected by a conservation easement, in the wake of a new state law that requires prior court approval for such a move. The district issued a statement Thursday morning that said it was withdrawing its condemnation of the conserved McCormick Farm in Silver Spring Township, in large part because of the brand new state law affecting the issue. That bill, signed by Gov. Tom Wolf on Sunday, changed legal standards for taking land subject to a conservation easement, as the McCormick Farm is. It shifts the burden to the condemnor to prove that it could not meet its needs with any other property.
Getting On Track to Graduation
Education Week By Urban Education Contributor on June 28, 2018 6:00 AM | No comments
This post is by Molly Crofton, Senior Research Analyst at Research For Action (RFA, @Research4Action) and author of the Philadelphia Education Research Consortium (PERC, @PHLedResearch) report described in this post. The research discussed in this post builds on the research from Monday's post: What Does 9th Grade Success Mean and Why Is It Important?
Why This Research
9th grade is a critical year. First year high schoolers who transition smoothly and earn the required credits are more likely to graduate within four years than students who struggle.
Given the importance of that first year, many school districts are setting credit requirements for 9th grade students to be considered on track to graduation. These definitions help districts understand how well they are supporting their 9th graders and which students need additional support. Recently, the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) developed a new Ninth Grade On-Track definition which requires a first-time 9th grader to earn one credit in each of the four core areas (math, English, social studies, and science), plus an additional credit from any content area in order to be considered on track (see more details in Monday's post). With support from the To and Through Project at the University of Chicago, SDP adapted a similar indicator used in Chicago Public Schools.
Education Bill That Omits Trump Merger Plan, Boosts Spending Advances in Senate
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on June 28, 2018 12:40 PM
Legislation that would provide a funding boost for disadvantaged students and special education was approved by the Senate appropriations committee on Thursday. The fiscal 2019 spending bill also does not include the Trump administration's proposal, unveiled last week, to merge the Education and Labor Departments into a single agency called the Department of Education and the Workforce. In addition, the legislation would set Education Department's discretionary budget at nearly $71.6 billion, an increase of $540 million over fiscal 2018 levels. The bill was introduced Tuesday in the Senate subcommittee for Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Department appropriations by its chairman, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. Blunt said the bill was the result of productive negotiations with Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the ranking member on the subcommittee. Compared to negotiations over fiscal 2018, the appropriations process for fiscal 2019 is on a fast track. Last year, the full Senate appropriations committee didn't approve a fiscal 2018 funding bill for education until September. Here are some details about the legislation's funding levels for education:
Apply Now for EPLC's 2018-2019 PA Education Policy Fellowship Program!
Applications are available now for the 2018-2019 Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP). The Education Policy Fellowship Program is sponsored in Pennsylvania by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC).
With more than 500 graduates in its first eighteen years, this Program is a premier professional development opportunity for educators, state and local policymakers, advocates, and community leaders. State Board of Accountancy (SBA) credits are available to certified public accountants.
Past participants include state policymakers, district superintendents and principals, school business officers, school board members, education deans/chairs, statewide association leaders, parent leaders, education advocates, and other education and community leaders. Fellows are typically sponsored by their employer or another organization. The Fellowship Program begins with a two-day retreat on September 13-14, 2018 and continues to graduation in June 2019.
Applications are being accepted now.
Click here to read more about the Education Policy Fellowship Program.
The application may be copied from the EPLC web site, but must be submitted by mail or scanned and e-mailed, with the necessary signatures of applicant and sponsor.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of the Fellowship Program and its requirements, please contact EPLC Executive Director Ron Cowell at 717-260-9900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nominations for PSBA’s Allwein Advocacy Award due by July 16
PSBA Website May 14, 2018
The Timothy M. Allwein Advocacy Award was established in 2011 by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and may be presented annually to the individual school director or entire school board to recognize outstanding leadership in legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of public education and students that are consistent with the positions in PSBA’s Legislative Platform. In addition to being a highly respected lobbyist, Timothy Allwein served to help our members be effective advocates in their own right. Many have said that Tim inspired them to become active in our Legislative Action Program and to develop personal working relationships with their legislators. The 2018 Allwein Award nomination process will begin on Monday, May 14, 2018. The application due date is July 16, 2018 in the honor of Tim’s birth date of July 16.
Download the Application
Our Public Schools Our Democracy: Our Fight for the Future
NPE / NPE Action 5th Annual National Conference
October 20th - 21st, 2018 Indianapolis, Indiana
We are delighted to let you know that you can purchase your discounted Early Bird ticket to register for our annual conference starting today. Purchase your ticket .
Early Bird tickets will be on sale until May 30 or until all are sold out, so don't wait. These tickets are a great price--$135. Not only do they offer conference admission, they also include breakfast and lunch on Saturday, and brunch on Sunday. Please don't forget room. We have secured discounted rates on a limited basis. You can find that link . Finally, if you require additional financial support to attend, we do offer based on need. Go and fill in an application. We will get back to you as soon as we can. Please join us in Indianapolis as we fight for the public schools that our children and communities deserve. Don't forget to . We can't wait to see you.