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Jim Engler, director of City Hall Policy along with Philadelphia administration officials. Samantha Laub / AL DÍA News
Jim Engler, director of City Hall Policy along with Philadelphia administration officials. Samantha Laub / AL DÍA News

Jim Kenney plans to regain control of Philadelphia's School District

The mayor of Philadelphia will announce to the Council on Wednesday his plan to retake full control of the body that governs the public education of the city.

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This Thursday, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is expected to announce to the Council his decision to retake full control of the city's public education, ruled for the past 16 years by the School Reform Commission (SRC), a five-member body whose majority is named by the governor of Pennsylvania.

In a press conference, Jim Engler, director of local administration policy, noted that one of the main reasons behind the measure is that the SRC projects a $ 105 million shortfall in the Philadelphia education budget for the fiscal year 2018-2019. In 2022, that deficit would reach one billion dollars.

Considering the enormous difficulties that the General Assembly of Pennsylvania is facing in order to cover the fiscal gap of 2.2 billion dollars in the state’s accounts - and that the SRC is not only under state control but also that its budget depends in large part of Harrisburg - Mayor Kenney wants to shield Philadelphia's public education from the effects of the state crisis.

However, to say that you will regain control of the SRC is one thing, and actually doing it is another. To this end, the mayor needs the SRC to decide its own dissolution and communicate that decision to the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education, who in turn must confirm the dissolution within 180 days before the end of the school year on June 30, 2018.

While this is happening, the mayor will create a School Nomination Panel that, as its name indicates, will be in charge of nominating the candidates who will join the School Board, the new body that will govern the public education of the city and that will report directly to Kenney.

According to Engle, the School Board will be composed of nine members who must demonstrate extensive experience in areas such as administration, education, public policy and community affairs. It is anticipated that even parents of the public school and charter students will be represented in that body.

Kenney’s plan is to have the new Philadelphia School Board appointed before the end of the school year so it becomes effective as early as on July 2018..

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