Controversy over budget decisions

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

  • There was sharp disagreement over the SRC’s split decision in June to renew contracts with outside education management organizations (EMOs) at 38 schools for one year, at a cost of $500 per student. The total cost is about $10 million. Critics said studies showed that despite extra funding, the EMO schools performed no better than comparable District schools. The District invited input on plans to cut $8 million from the District’s alternative and disciplinary schools. Some advocates argued for sparing special schools serving returning dropouts and urged that the District renegotiate its large contracts with Community Education Partners and other for-profit disciplinary school managers. Payments to departing District officials also sparked controversy. Departing CEO Paul Vallas ultimately received a final check for $180,000, including a retention bonus, salary, and vacation time, which District officials said was only what his contract required. But despite no obligation, departing SRC chair James Nevels authorized a severance package of $135,000 plus benefits for exiting Chief Financial Officer Folasade Olanipekun.