Today, City Council hosted a special all-day Committee of the Whole session featuring only the School District of Philadelphia. While Council members had a great deal of questions, the same answers were being applied to various questions and so here are the broad strokes.
School Reform Commission chairman, Pedro Ramos started with a broad overview of the District listing some recent accomplishments of the new SRC. It did not go without notice that Ramos, on several occasions, made reference to the "new" SRC. This was to draw a stark contrast from the last group who, many claim, with the help of the late Arlene Ackerman drove the district into its current financial position.
Among the accomplishments noted by Ramos were:
- Reduction of a deficit of over $700 million to "only" $20 million
- Reduced contracted services spending by $21 million
- Reduced central office staffing
- Negotiated a new partnership agreement with SEIU Local 32 BJ District 1201leading to a greater financial contribution by District employees
- The adoption of a Five-Year Financial Plan to better inform a path to financial stability
- Made the decision to shutter 24 schools
Last year, according to Ramos, the District added more students with an opportunity to enroll in high-performing District-run schools by adding more than 2,000 seats. They also approved new renaissance charter schools and installed high performing charter manages in chronically low-performing schools.