This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
The School Reform Commission, the District’s five-member governing board, lost two of its veterans and welcomed two new mayoral appointees in April. Another nominee, put forward by Governor Rendell, is still awaiting confirmation by the state Senate.
Thrust into the roles of commissioner and chair of the body is Robert L. Archie, Jr., a veteran attorney and alumnus of West Philadelphia High School. He is a partner at the law firm Duane Morris LLP, with a strong background in municipal finance.
Mayor Nutter’s other appointee is Johnny Irizarry, a long-time Latino community activist, nonprofit leader, and arts educator. Irizarry directs the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Hispanic Excellence: La Casa Latina.
Both were quickly called upon to cast a major vote on the District’s five-year strategic plan barely a week after their swearing-in ceremony on April 8.
The commission now consists of just four members, with the confirmation pending of gubernatorial appointee Joseph Dworetzky, an attorney and former city solicitor.
SRC actions require approval of three or more commissioners.
Terms of four commissioners had officially expired in January, and the three new SRC appointees were introduced at a joint press conference called by the mayor and governor on March 28 after a months-long, closed-door vetting process.
In addition to the three, Governor Rendell reappointed to the commission Heidi Ramirez, an expert in education policy, research, and evaluation, who heads the Urban Education Collaborative at Temple University’s College of Education.
The outgoing SRC Chair Sandra Dungee Glenn, one of two sitting commissioners not reappointed, was the last of the original SRC cohort who took office in early 2002 in the wake of the “friendly takeover” of the District by the state. Also out is long-time commissioner Martin Bednarek. Former commissioner James Gallagher stepped down at the end of his term in January.
Now the “old-timer” on the commission, with less than two years of service, is Denise McGregor Armbrister, executive director of the Wachovia Regional Foundation and a mother of five, two of whom currently attend Philadelphia public schools. Ramirez has served on the SRC for one year.