School board application deadline looms as Mayor Parker seeks more teachers, funds for building repair

Applications close Friday for the nine members of the Philadelphia School Board Mayor Cherelle Parker will submit to City Council at a time when city schools face great challenges and opportunities.

Niko and Niam Battle are recent 5-year-old residents of West Philadelphia. They need an elementary school, so they’ve come with their mom to school district headquarters to find one. Shalana Smith of West Philadelphia said she wants, "A safer environment, more activities, things to keep them engaged, more opportunities."

The boys will enter a nearly 200,000 student public and charter school system undergoing change as Mayor Parker begins to make her mark on the office. Friday night, at 11:59, applications close for the nine members of the city’s school board Mayor Parker will recommend to City Council.

The city says more than 80 residents have already gone to the sign-up portal at Phila.Gov and it hopes for even more applicants.

Sharon Ward is the mayor’s Deputy Chief Education Officer. She said, "The mayor is really looking for diversity. Diversity of neighborhoods, diversity of backgrounds, diversity of experience, diversity of skills."


In her 100-day action plan, Parker details her vision of a "Diverse teaching workforce" in "State-of-the-art" schools. But the district is short teachers, and its buildings are an average age of 70 years.

Ward continued, "The mayor would like to have people on the school board who see the problems, who are dedicated to finding real solutions and certainly school facilities is one that the mayor sees as a high priority."

City schools may see an infusion of as much as $1 billion as the state legislature reacts to a court ruling finding Pa.’s school funding unconstitutional. Big challenges for a new school board while Shalana Smith just wants the basics.

Smith said, "Reading, music, writing, math they like to do it all." Adding, "I want it to be an option."