Before submitting letters of both interest and qualifications to the School Reform Commission in order to manage some of the city’s worst schools, Temple closely watched the public school reform process unfold in Philadelphia.
On Jan. 3, Temple officials held a community meeting to gauge community support in the event that Temple would pursue public school management.
“We are trying to be a good neighbor; trying to build bridges with our community,” said Greg Rost, chief of staff to the president.
He said that community leaders and principals were disappointed over Temple’s lack of a commitment to it at the time.
Following that, the SRC announced on Jan. 18 that interested parties had to submit contact information by Jan. 30 and a statement of qualifications by Feb. 8.
Temple held a second community meeting on Feb. 6 with principals and community leaders. One area school principal said that those attending did support Temple’s move.
“There was broad support expressed at that meeting for Temple continuing in the RFQ (request for qualifications) process,” Rost said.
He said there were two things the community liked about Temple: “One, they were familiar with Temple … and the second thing the community liked is that we’re not a for profit organization.”
Temple made this a major point in its paperwork sent to the SRC. Signed by President David Adamany, the letter stated: “We do, however, have the desire, human resources and experience necessary to help improve our community and the lives of the children and families that reside in the neighborhoods adjacent to our Main Campus.”
Looking ahead, Rost said the University was in the dark about how things would proceed after filing the qualifications statement. At some point negotiations will take place for the purpose of writing contracts. SRC officials could not be reached for comment.
This lack of knowledge and the quick speed with which the process has moved, has left Temple with uncertainties. The SRC plans on having outside management of some of its schools by the 2002-03 academic year.
But Temple still does not know how many schools it can actually manage or how many of the schools the SRC would open up to Temple management.
Within a few blocks radius of Main Campus, about eight schools sit waiting to find out. How many of those eight are considered troubled has not been determined, but almost 100 of the school system’s 264 schools may be considered in trouble when final figures are announced.
Heidi J. Gold, a press contact for the SRC, said the Philadelphia School District would retain control of the remaining schools.
Several of these schools have very low ratings, according to the School Performance Index. The index is based on test scores and attendance of students and staff. A few actually decreased during the time allotted for improvement.
As for funding, Rost said the University has no plans to subsidize any of the schools it would manage. The University has already been dealing with a funding cut for this fiscal year. Where money will come from and exactly how much will be part of the negotiation process.
All correspondence between Temple and the SRC has highlighted the College of Education as a national leader in urban teacher education, but Rost said Temple had other resources to offer. Namely the Liberal Arts and Science and Technology programs.
Temple already has 235 programs running in the Philadelphia School District. These include mentoring and tutoring for students as well as a number of programs for school faculty and staff.