This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
At its December meetings, the School Reform Commission:
- Clarified its policy on suspension and expulsion and voted for the first time since 2004 to expel a student. The resolution states that the District is committed to using "all of the tools at its disposal" to maintain safe learning environments, reaffirms the need to identify and help troubled students early, and spells out how expelled students will be placed in alternative schools unless the parent chooses to put the child in an educational setting outside Philadelphia. The SRC also heard a report on placements in disciplinary schools.
- Voted to the lower compulsory school age to six, after receiving the go-ahead from the state legislature under the prodding of Rep. James Roebuck (D.- Phila.). In the rest of Pennsylvania, children are not required to start school until age eight. Roebuck argued that students needed the earliest start possible to fulfill their academic potential.
- Adopted a new policy addressing the public’s right to procure copies of District records, complying with changes to the state’s new open records law, Act 3 of 2008. Requests for records are to be submitted in writing to the “Open Records Officer” at the School District and can use the form provided by the state.
- Heard an update on its financial status from Chief Business Officer Michael Masch, who said that in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2008, the District was able to reduce its deficit to less than half a million dollars. Masch said that despite cost increases due to contract settlements and borrowing expenses, the District expects to end the current fiscal year with a balanced budget, and does not expect to see major decreases in tax revenues until 2009-10.