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Mayor Jim Kenney at the School Reform Commission Conference last fall. Mayor Kenney will select nine of the 27 candidates proposed by the Education Nominating Panel to serve on the city's new Board of Education. Samantha Laub/AL DÍA News 
Mayor Jim Kenney at the School Reform Commission Conference last fall. Mayor Kenney will select nine of the 27 candidates proposed by the Education Nominating Panel to serve on the city's new Board of Education. Samantha Laub / AL DÍA News 

City extends application deadline for Philadelphia Board of Education candidates

The nominating panel calls for more time, more applicants in next step of returning the School District of Philadelphia to local control. 

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On Monday the Mayor’s Office of Education announced that the new deadline for applications and nominations for Philadelphia’s Board of Education will be Feb. 7 — extended from Jan. 31 —, a move expected to increase the pool of potential candidates. 

The nominating panel, which will choose 27 candidates to present to Mayor Kenney at the end of the month, has already received over 500 applications and submissions through both the online portal and paper forms — and they are looking to gain more, said chair of the nominating panel Wendell Pritchett, according to an Office of Education press release published Monday. 

“We want to make sure that as many interested and qualified Philadelphians as possible are able to apply, so we are extending the deadline to allow more time for outreach and to ensure that all interested applicants can submit their applications in time for us to review,” said Pritchett. 

Philadelphia community members can nominate themselves or someone else to serve on the nine-seat board of education, with legal requirements for the position listed on the Office of Education website. The board positions are unpaid and will be set for a four-year, coterminous term with the mayor. 

The Mayor’s Office on Education is also conducting a District-wide survey to ask constituents what areas of improvement in city schools are most important to them, and what qualities they want to see in individual board members as well as the board as a whole. According to city officials, as of last week about 2,280 people from 95 percent of the District’s geographical regions had responded to the survey, but the Office of Education said they want to have more School District constituents weigh in. The results of the survey will be used to inform the nominating panel's selection process in the coming month. 

At a media roundtable last week, Otis Hackney, Chief Education Officer of the Mayor’s Office of Education, spoke about the process for selecting the city’s new board as the School District returns to local control for the first time in 16 years. 

“There is work that’s being done, but more that we can do once we have local control,” said Hackney, citing improving and strengthening education as the priority in addressing the poverty faced by 26 percent of the city’s residents. 

Hackney said that despite the progress the School District has made in recent years which makes now an ideal time to transition back to local control, the new board will face significant challenges — including “holding the state accountable for adequate funding” in the face of a projected one-billion-dollar budget deficit by 2023.

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