Officials Plan Dramatic Restructure of Philadelphia Schools [SHORT]

Published July 8, 2012

Local officials have released a plan to rebuild the long-ailing Philadelphia School District from the ground up.

“The current structure doesn’t work,” said School Reform Commission (SRC) ChairmanPedro Ramos. “It’s not fiscally sustainable, and it doesn’t produce high-quality schools for all kids.”

Insolvency, poor academic achievement, and safety concerns are primary reasons to act, he said. The SRC’s reorganization plan would close 64 poorly performing schoolsover five years, starting with 40 schools in 2013; move thousands of students to charterschools; and replace the central district office with several decentralized “achievement networks” that compete to run schools and sign performance contracts.

“If we don’t close these schools, … we’re blowing about $33 million,” explained SRC Chief Recovery Officer Thomas Knudsen. “We can’t afford that.”

The current, 2013 district budget shortfall is $218 million. Left unchecked, it is projectedto grow to $1.1 billion by 2017. Philadelphia is one of the lowest-performing school districts in the nation.

Image by World Affairs Council of Philadelphia.