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At the SRC

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

At its February meetings, the School Reform Commission:

  • Approved modifications to the District’s charter school policy allowing charter operators to apply to increase their enrollment or add grades during the third year of their five-year charter, or at renewal. Previously, charter operators could only apply for such changes during their renewal year.
  • Other modifications to the policy include: adding two other measures beside adequate yearly progress – charter school annual performance report cards and the District’s school performance index – to evaluate a school’s academic progress; and a one-time grace period allowing consideration of enrollment increases requested during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 renewal cycles.
  • Mastery Charter Schools CEO Scott Gordon and KIPP Philadelphia Charter School CEO Marc Mannella testified in support of the policy changes.
  • Heard statements February 24 from a lineup of Philadelphia dignitaries about how to address a wave of violence in and outside of Philadelphia public schools. Superintendent Arlene Ackerman called the youth violence that has erupted at South Philadelphia High School and elsewhere throughout the city “a public health issue that affects everyone’s life…. Schools cannot solve this problem alone and law enforcement can only do so much.”
  • Those standing in support of Ackerman included Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, District Attorney Seth Williams, city Chief Education Officer Lori Shorr, Philadelphia Human Services Commissioner Anne Marie Ambrose, City Councilwoman Donna Reid Miller, Mothers In Charge Executive Director Dorothy Johnson-Speight, Mayor Nutter’s Chief of Staff Clarence D. Armbrister, and City Controller Alan Butkovitz.
  • Ackerman announced plans for a blue-ribbon panel to examine youth violence in Philadelphia and make recommendations for change. Ackerman said students attending alternative schools would also be required to participate in a restorative justice program before being re-instated to a traditional school environment. She also announced plans to bring in a national youth violence prevention campaign.
  • Heard testimony from members of the Philadelphia Student Union about its new campaign to address school violence. Carver High School senior DeVante Wilson presented the new campaign that includes a three-pronged approach to tackling the problem.
  • Voted to amend the terms of New Media Technology Charter School’s conditional charter renewal. NMTCS received that renewal in August in the face of allegations of financial mismanagement and conflicts of interest.
  • Its charter renewal had been predicated upon 23 conditions, and deadlines for meeting most of those conditions were extended by several months. The mandated resignation of former CEO Ina Walker and former chair of the Board of Trustees Hugh C. Clark took place after the original deadlines last fall. Other conditions include resignation of the remaining holdover members of the board, release of the school’s financial records to the District for review during the term of the charter, and mandatory board training programs for the new board members.
  • Voted to approve a contract worth nearly $360,000 with The New Teacher Project, Inc. to continue the Philadelphia Teaching Fellows Program in which TNTP will recruit and select a new cohort of 54-68 teachers to begin teaching in September 2010. The District will also pay up to 75 TNTP teaching fellows a stipend of $1,500 each to participate in a pre-service training.
  • Voted to amend the original agreement made with Teach Productions regarding the filming of the reality television show at Northeast High School starring actor Tony Danza. Under the new agreement, Teach Productions will continue to produce the original 13 episodes of the A&E television series through June 30, 2010, Danza will co-teach the 10th grade English class at the school through the end of the spring semester, and Teach Productions will reimburse the District for staffing expenses up to a maximum of $35,000.
  • Voted to approve a $33,000 contract with Rutherford Learning Group to provide professional development for the Empowerment principals through June 30, 2010.
  • Voted to expel 17 students.

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