Temple University completed the next step in its bid to manage a number of Philadelphia’s failing public schools. The number in the running has already been narrowed to 10 at the end of last week.
Greg Rost, chief of staff to President Adamany, said he was pleased and called the situation “win-win.” He called the School Reform Commission’s decision, “[a] validation of all the work we are currently doing in the public schools.”
University officials would not comment on the number of schools they are interested in managing as they would rather announce it to community leaders and school principals at an upcoming meeting.
Officials did say that the schools in question were within walking distance from Main Campus. About eight schools fall into that category.
Rost said this was a “practical consideration” because Temple could maintain an around-the-clock presence. It also opened the doors for shared facilities, access to the same resources as University students and a closer proximity for the staff, faculty and students.
The latest proposal that Temple submitted also questioned those seeking management about community relationships. Temple already has a presence in the public school system, with over 260 programs engaging school students to administration.
Temple was still keeping open dialogue with the community and was looking at the possibility of advisory boards with community members holding positions to meet the community involvement requirement in the latest proposal.
“This exercise is really an opportunity for us to focus our resources.” Rost said. “We would do all that we could to engage parents, in particular, community leaders and other interested parties in the management operations of the schools.”
University officials are unsure still of how Temple will manage the schools. They are assuming that many of the functions will be negotiable through the contractual process.
Rost said that the University had not met with any of the other interested parties to gauge management expectations. They also would like to see how the consulting organizations, those that will provide services, such as food and technology, will overlap with the education managers before finalizing any plans.
The latest proposals sent to the SRC are being reviewed. Main and additional educational providers will be decided upon by April 17, 2002. Beyond this, a lot of unknowns remain. Temple officials said they still had questions, but legally, those seeking management can not contact commission members, according to original proposal guidelines.
Heidi Gold of Ross Associates, Inc., the PR firm working with SRC, said the commission was under a lot of pressure, dealing with financial issues, consultant issues, partnership schools and task force studies. Because of this, the commission was still working to complete the timeline for the next few months. Schools would begin privatization by September 2002, but length of contract must still be determined. For consultant firms, the contracts spanned a maximum of two years and were renewable.
Gold could not comment on the criteria that ultimately led to the advancement of the 10 named. She did say, however, all that responded said they were prepared to manage schools as early as September 2002.
Brian Swope can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org