Officials: Mayor will advocate the SRC be replaced by School Board

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney will give a speech on Thursday outline the details of this change.

Joyce Wilkerson, the senior adviser for community relations and development for President Richard Englert, was appointed to the Philadelphia School Reform Commission by Mayor Jim Kenney on Nov. 3., 2016. COURTESY CITY OF PHILADELPHIA

Mayor Jim Kenney will advocate for the dissolution for the School Reform Commission and to return the School District of Philadelphia to local control, city officials confirmed Wednesday evening.

Kenney is proposing a mayoral appointed nine-member school board that will serve with the term of the mayor, city officials said at a press conference. This is the first time in the SRC’s 16-year existence a mayor has advocated for the dissolution of the SRC.

Kenney will give a speech, outlining the details of regaining local control of the district on Thursday where he will also discuss the future funding for Philadelphia Schools.

The SRC is expected to recommend dissolving the SRC to the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera at its Nov. 16 meeting. Rivera will have to certify the dissolution by Dec. 31. If approved, the SRC will cease to exist and be replaced by local control at the end of the school year on June 30, 2018.

A nominating panel will created and each member will select and submit three candidates for each of the nine seats on the new board of education to Kenney.

City Council is expected to propose an amendment that will allow the council approve the nine board members Kenney appoints.

This would be a new practice, as the city council did not have a say in who was on the school board in the past.

Jim Engler, the deputy mayor for policy and legislation, said during a press briefing Wednesday that he expects appointments to be made in February or March.

The SRC was created in 2001, when the School District of Philadelphia was issued a Declaration of Distress by the former Secretary of Education Charles Zogby.

In the past, the mayor could appoint two members to the SRC and the governor had three appointments.

Engler said Kenney has been looking at this change to the district since the beginning of his administration and that now is the “right time to make this change.”

There are four components to this new board — centralized accountability, strong management, better resources for schools and collaboration between the city and the district, Engler added.

Kenney supports William Hite, the superintendent of the district, who will remain in this position despite the dissolution of the SRC, Engler said.

The current members of the SRC can be considered for seats in the future, but cannot be nominated for the upcoming school board since they potentially would be sitting on two boards at the same time.

Joyce Wilkerson, senior adviser for community relations and development at the university, is currently the chair of the SRC. Christopher McGinley, an SRC member, is an associate professor in the College of Education.

Wilkerson told The Temple News last month that she was unsure what would replace the SRC if it were to be dissolved.

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