This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
At its March School Reform Commission meetings, the SRC:
-Adopted a “lump sum” budget for Fiscal Year 2009, with anticipated expenditures totaling $2.3 billion. The SRC said it would end this fiscal year in June with an estimated $21 million cumulative deficit, and that the full budget to be adopted in May must address that deficit plus an additional operating budget gap of $19 million in the coming fiscal year. The budget includes funds to add about 120 teaching positions in “Corrective Action II” schools to reduce class size to 22 in grades K-3.
-Voted 4-0 to hire Arlene Ackerman, former superintendent in San Francisco and Washington, as chief executive officer of the District, at a base salary of $325,000 annually. The SRC is expected to negotiate a five-year contract with Ackerman.
-Welcomed its newest commissioner, Heidi Ramirez of Temple University’s Urban Education Collaborative, appointed by Gov. Rendell to fill the seat vacated last summer by former SRC Chair James Nevels.
-Ratified a new agreement with the City of Philadelphia setting terms for the transfer of a former city recreation center at Kensington to be used as a site for the new Willard School. Groundbreaking on the long-awaited building is projected for the fall.
-Held hearings on the proposed closing next June of two West Philadelphia middle schools, Turner and Sulzberger, with a final decision scheduled for this June. Community groups near Turner are working on a proposal for a new school to use the existing facility. Sulzberger is projected to serve as home next year for the Parkway West High School, which shares a deteriorating building with the Middle Years Alternative (MYA) School. The District, which faced criticism for lack of public input on the school closings, proposes relocating MYA to the Peirce School building at 24th and Christian, a school that is not operating this year but was never officially closed.