This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Philadelphia’s City Council will hold a virtual hearing Friday morning on Mayor Kenney’s nominations to the Board of Education before voting on them at Council’s scheduled 11 a.m. meeting.
The mayor renominated eight of the current nine members and chose Ameen Akbar to replace Board Vice President Wayne Walker, who is stepping down for personal reasons.
Under the City Charter, a new board must be seated on May 1. This year marks the first time that City Council will have a chance to weigh in on the mayor’s choices. That change was made when the local board was reconstituted in 2018 after the District spent nearly two decades being governed by the state-dominated School Reform Commission.
After the mayor selected Akbar, board member Christopher McGinley announced that he also would step down on April 30. Kenney has not yet chosen a replacement for McGinley and has asked the Education Nominating Panel to reconvene and submit a new list of names.
The panel is charged with vetting candidates and giving the mayor three names for each vacancy, which it did in February when it submitted the names of the eight current members who wanted at that point to return, including McGinley, plus 19 others.
Sarah Peterson, communications director for the city’s Office of Education, said the mayor was seeking new names because the panel “did not know about Chris McGinley’s resignation when they considered candidates and made their recommendations … and the mayor wants to make sure they can select nominees with that knowledge by reconvening when practical.”
McGinley has said he will not stay on past April 30, so the board will most likely operate for a time with a vacancy.
The hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. At the regular meeting at 11 a.m, Council members are scheduled to vote on resolutions regarding the board nominees.
But the main item of business for the morning is to consider a revised budget proposal from Mayor Kenney, which is expected to show a sharp decline in expected revenues that will affect city services and the School District. The District has no taxing power of its own and gets most of its revenue from the city and the state. District officials have already announced that its once balanced budget is now anticipating a shortfall of $38 million by fiscal 2022 and $1 billion by fiscal 2025 due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on city and state revenue.
The hearing and meeting will be held virtually and aired on Channels 64 or 40 and live-streamed at www.PHLCouncil.com/watch. Speakers interested in making public comment must call 215-686-3406 by 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 30, and submit their name, a call-back number, and say whether they are for or against any specific bill or resolution on the agenda. They will be called during the session and will have up to three minutes to speak.
The Board of Education has a full agenda for its scheduled meeting on Thursday evening, including votes on the renewals of several charter schools and a resolution calling for an overhaul of the state’s charter school funding formula.