This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
At its January meetings, the School Reform Commission:
- Voted unanimously to adopt a revised Declaration of Education that highlights a commitment to learning for all children, eliminating achievement gaps, partnering with parents, and providing safe schools. The new iteration of the Declaration of Education became SRC Policy 008. As part of the original 2004 Declaration, the SRC developed and reported annually on a set of numerical goals called “Measures that Matter,” which are being revised through the District’s strategic planning process and will be unveiled later this winter.
- Voted unanimously to expel two students. In December 2008, the SRC clarified its policy on suspension and expulsion and voted for the first time since 2004 to expel a student.
- Heard a report on facilities planning from Athenian Properties of Philadelphia, which said there are 43,500 more seats than students in District schools – a number expected to grow to 61,000 in five years. Growth of charter schools and a declining birth rate and population are factors in the excess capacity. District Chief Business Officer Michael J. Masch said dozens of schools are less than half full. A consultant from Athenian said the District could save on facilities and free up funds for instruction through strategies like program consolidation, building closures, and redistricting. The commission is expected to vote this spring on a draft policy that outlines the criteria for making “right-sizing decisions” about how to use District buildings.
- Said goodbye to resigning commissioner James P. Gallagher. Gallagher, whose term expired January 18, served seven years on the five-member commission, which runs the District. He was appointed by Republican Gov. Mark Schweiker in 2002. Gallagher was a proponent of charter schools and became an outspoken critic of former District CEO Paul Vallas. Gov. Ed Rendell has not yet announced how he will fill Gallagher’s seat.