PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The state-created Philadelphia School Reform Commission will decide Thursday night whether to pave the way for local school control by voting itself out of existence.
By law, a majority of the five SRC members have to vote to dissolve. If the state education secretary signs-off on the idea before January first, the SRC would no longer exist after June 30. Three SRC commissioners were appointed by Governor Tom Wolf or Mayor Jim Kenney, both of whom favor local control. Mayor Kenney says the votes are there.
“It won’t be unanimous,” the mayor said, “but there will be enough votes to dissolve.”
For Commissioner Chris McGinley, dissolving the School Reform Commission was always part of his plan.
“I was approached to serve as a member of the SRC. And I said one of my conditions for serving was that while I was serving, there would be a return to local control,” McGinley said. “I’ve been publicly in favor of a return to local control. I do anticipate that the resolution would pass.”
But Commissioner Bill Green says he’ll vote no. He says dissolution is a rushed process that’s politically motivated. And he’s concerned the move will anger lawmakers in Harrisburg who control the purse strings. He says there are drawbacks in ending state control of schools.
“For example, the unions will be able to strike,” he said. “We no longer have maintenance of effort from the city, which means the city could lower funding.”
Green favors a mayor’s board that would work alongside the SRC for a year, before a gaining full local control in 2019.
“I think there’s more work to do,” Green said, “and another year would have proved fruitful for the city and the transition.”
But Green says there is no doubt that the dissolution vote will carry.
Mayor Kenney is already assembling a school board nominating committee.