Philly Will Regain Local Control of Schools
When the 2017-18 school year concludes on June 30th, 2018, all of the state’s 500 school districts–from the Austin Area District in Potter County (164 pupils in 2015-16) to the Philadelphia School District (204,000 pupils in 2015-16)–will be administered by nine member school boards. The only difference with Philadelphia is that the board will be appointed by City officials rather than being elected by the voters of the District.
We wrote in mid-November that the School Reform Commission that ran Philadelphia’s public schools since 2001 was taking up a motion to dissolve. That motion passed, and the decision was then in the hands of the state Secretary of Education. The Secretary “… noted that the district and the city have developed an appropriate plan to transition control from the SRC to a locally-appointed board of education. Board members will receive training, attend SRC action meetings, and form committees to ensure a smooth transition when the SRC officially dissolves at the end of this school year.”
With the dissolution of the SRC comes a rescission of the distress status that came in 2001 but the Secretary noted in his letter to City officials that there will still be issues–pensions, health care, and charter school costs–outside of the District’s control and faced by other districts in the state that will have an impact on the newly appointed board. The District did receive additional taxing powers in the past several years from the state, including a tax on cigarettes.