Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney expressed his support for dissolving the School Reform Commission in favor of a Mayor-appointed school board, while also pushing for increased school funding.
Mayor Kenney expressed his concerns with leaving the city’s fate “largely in someone else’s hands,” based on the quality of the city’s schools.
“Today, after nearly two years of careful consideration and research, 98 school visits, and conversations with 158 school principals, and countless parents, teachers and business leaders, I am officially calling on the members of the School Reform Commission to vote to dissolve at their next scheduled meeting,” Mayor Kenney explained Thursday.
Kenney then expressed his desire to return to a nine-member school board appointed by the mayor. The nine board members would be recommended to the mayor by a nominating panel.
“The nominating panel is composed of thirteen Philadelphians, including four members of the public at-large, as well as nine leaders of organizations, described in the charter, whose institutions support the public good across the City,” the mayor explained.
The mayor discussed the idea of holding himself and future mayors accountable for the success of city schools under a mayor-appointed school board.
“When the SRC dissolves itself and we return to a school board appointed by the Mayor, you can hold me, and future mayors, accountable for the success or failure of our schools,” Kenney said.
“The District currently serves over 200,000 students, including the nearly 70,000 of those students attending a public charter school,” Kenney added, “I am responsible to every one of those children, no matter the type of school they attend.”
Joyce Wilkerson, chair of the School Reform Commission responded to the Mayor's speech in a statement:
“The School Reform Commission was created in 2001 as a temporary form
of governance for the School District of Philadelphia. Since then the School District has weathered multiple fiscal crises and leadership changes. The District now has a balanced budget, strong leadership in Dr. Hite and is making real academic progress. As a result of this progress and stability, we have the opportunity to reexamine the governance structure including the restoration of local control. On November 16 a resolution will come
before the SRC which would take the first step in a process to bring local control of the School District back to Philadelphia. Strong public education is the most significant factor in the welfare of our city and the future of our children. It is time for Philadelphia to take ownership of that future.”