Nutter: 'Time to end the SRC'
With two months left in office, Mayor Michael Nutter gave an address on the future of education in Philadelphia with a list of policy recommendations or “lessons for the future,” including the return to local control and the dissolution of the School Reform Commission (SRC).
During his speech he focused on the funding crisis, the need for greater accountability, as well as a locally controlled school board.
Nutter said that while he believes the SRC and its many members have functioned to the best of their abilities and with good intentions, “we Philadelphians deserve to govern our own schools. In my opinion and based on my experience – it is time to end the SRC. It’s time for it to go.”
He added that local control eliminates confusion over who is responsible for what.
“Over the past eight years, we’ve seen a revolving door of leadership everywhere but our local government – three Governors, five Secretaries of Education, five School District Superintendents, six SRC Chairs and 17 SRC members,” Nutter said. “Returning to local control means the voters of this city know who to hold accountable for educational outcomes – the Mayor.”
But dissolving the SRC is easier said than done. Kristen Graham, of the Philadelphia Inquirer, reported that the SRC members must vote to abolish the commission. “The legislature could also amend the law that created the SRC. Unless changes are enacted, the district would then revert back to a board of education, as outlined in the City Charter,” Graham added.
Nutter proposed a plan that would transfer the control of schools to a local body by 2018.
He displayed a new Board of Education, with nine members: five appointed outright by the mayor, four chosen from 12 recommended by City Council.
“But before Philadelphia can begin the process to return to local control, there are four things that must happen,” Nutter said. “First, we need full funding for public education by the Commonwealth, including appropriate reimbursements for charter schools. Second, we must have the creation and implementation of a student-weighted funding formula.”
Once the first two pieces are in place, he said the School District will have an accurate understanding of how much money it will receive annually from the state and the city, and “it must adhere to its five-year, financial stability planning process that demonstrates the District’s structural balance.”
“And fourth, we need full public engagement – a year of public hearings on governance, debates and forums on how best to improve education,” Nutter said.