School District of Philadelphia
|School District of Philadelphia|
|440 N. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 19130
|Superintendent||William R. Hite, Jr., Ed.D. salary $270,000 (2014)|
|Asst. Superintendent(s)||Paul Kihn, M.B.A. (Deputy Superintendent) Salary $210,000 (2014),
Penny Nixon, M.Ed. (Chief Academic Officer)
|School board||School Reform Commission|
|Budget||$2.6 billion (2014)|
|Students and staff|
|Teachers union||Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT)|
The School Board was created in 1850 to oversee the schools of Philadelphia. The Act of Assembly of April 5, 1867, designated that the Controllers of the Public Schools of Philadelphia were to be appointed by the judges of the Court of Common Pleas. There was one Controller to be appointed from each ward. This was done to eliminate politics from the management of the schools.
Eventually, the management of the school district was given to a school board appointed by the mayor. This continued until 2001 when the district was taken over by the state, and the governor was given the power to appoint a majority of the five members of the new School Reform Commission.
- 1 Schools
- 2 Enrollment
- 3 Organization
- 4 Governance
- 5 History
- 6 Strategic Plan
- 7 Art in the public schools
- 8 Budget
- 8.1 State basic education funding
- 8.2 Federal Stimulus grant
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
The School District of Philadelphia operates 214 of the city's 300 public schools, including 149 elementary schools, 16 middle schools, and 49 high schools.
Enrollment in Philadelphia's district schools was 131,362 students as of December 2013.
Prior to August 2012, the district was organized into academic division (AD) offices, each with its own Assistant Superintendent. As a part of the Chief Academic Office Reorganization/Transition Proposal, the AD structure was abolished. Schools are organized into Principal Learning Teams (PLTs), each with its own peer-selected Coordinator and all schools now report to the Chief Academic Office through the Office of School Performance Management.
The School District of Philadelphia is governed by the five-member School Reform Commission. The commission was established in December 2001, when oversight of the district was taken over by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Governor of Pennsylvania appoints three of the members, and the Mayor of Philadelphia appoints two members of the commission.
The following is the current district leadership.
- Chief Executive Officer & Superintendent - William R. Hite, JR., Ed.D.
- Deputy Chief Executive Officer & Deputy Superintendent - Paul Kihn, MBA
- Chief Academic Officer & Associate Superintendent of Schools - Penny Nixon, Ed.D.
- Chief Financial Officer - Matthew Stanski, MPA
- Chief Information Officer - Melanie Harris
- Chief Student Support Services Officer - Karyn Lynch, MPA
- Chief Family & Community Engagement Officer - Evelyn Sample-Oates (Interim)
- Chief Support Services Officer - Vacant
- Chief Human Resources Officer - Teresa Gavigan
School Reform Commission
- Marjorie Neff -Chairperson
- William J. Green
- Sylvia P. Simms
- Farah Jimenez
- Feather Houstoun
- Marjorie Neff
In 1967, high school students demonstrated in front of the Board of Education building, demanding better treatment, especially for African-American students, and better funding. The demonstrators were met with force by the Philadelphia Police Department, and the resulting riot left 22 injured and 57 arrested.
Takeover by the state
The state takeover of the District had its roots in the chronic low test scores of district students and a history of inequitable financing which left the District with substantial and perpetual deficits. In 1975, Pennsylvania provided 55 percent of school funding statewide; in 2001 it provided less than 36 percent. An analysis determined that increased district spending was limited by a state system which relies heavily on property taxes for local school funding. As a result, wealthier school districts with proportionately more property owners and more expensive real estate have more funds for schools. The result is great disparities in school system expenditures per student. In 2000, the Philadelphia school district spent $6,969 a year per student. Seventy percent of Philadelphia’s students are at or near the poverty line. This contrasts with expenditures per student in wealthier suburban school districts: Jenkintown, $12,076; Radnor, $13,288; and Upper Merion, $13,139.
In February 1998, then-superintendent David Hornbeck threatened to close the city's schools if the state did not provide the funds needed to balance his proposed budget.
State lawmakers responded to the threat with fast-moving legislation, Act 46, on April 21, approving a school funding package that included a takeover plan. The legislature’s plan was a reaction to Hornbeck’s threatening to shut down the schools because of a financial crisis.
"Holding students and their parents and teachers hostage in an effort to gain additional funding is certainly bold but not very wise", commented Representative Dwight Evans, Democratic chair of the House Appropriations Committee and prime architect of the takeover bill.
Two lawsuits were filed by the city and the Philadelphia School District in 1997 and 1998 to address what they considered inadequate funding levels. The first, filed by the school district, the city and community leaders, contended that Pennsylvania did not provide a "thorough and efficient" education; it was dismissed outright by the state court. The second case, a civil rights suit filed in Federal District Court, by the district, the city, and other interested parties, contended that the state's funding practices discriminated against school districts with large numbers of non-White students; the School District of Philadelphia was a key complainant in this case. The city agreed to put this case on hold when Mayor Street negotiated the "friendly" state takeover of the District, with the promise of additional funding from the state.
In June 2000, under increasing pressure to find a solution to the fiscal and academic problems facing the district, school superintendent David W. Hornbeck ended his six-year tenure. Hornbeck said he did not have the financial support of state and city officials to continue his school reform program (and a year later launched a statewide advocacy organization, Good Schools Pennsylvania, to mobilize citizens in support of improved state funding for public education). He called improving public education "one of the great civil rights battles of this generation." The Board of Education then implemented a new management structure, replacing the superintendent's position with two new positions, a chief academic officer, Deidre Fambry, and a chief executive officer.
In 2001, the district had a projected deficit of $216.7 million in its current $1.7 billion budget. There was a crisis in making the school payroll and paying $30 million in vendor bills. In recognition of the assistance, Mayor Street agreed to postpone for three months a 1998 federal lawsuit brought by the city claiming racial discrimination in the way the state funds the Philadelphia school district. In a study released in July by the Harvard Civil Rights Project, Pennsylvania was ranked as having the sixth most segregated schools in the United States. Under the legislation enacted in 1998, in 2001 Governor Mark Schweiker took control of the schools. The state takeover of what was then the fifth largest school district in the United States was seen as the most radical reform ever undertaken in a large urban school district. This move was opposed by Mayor John F. Street and many members of the city of Philadelphia. The negotiations dragged on because of the state’s insistence that the city pay its fair share, while the city fought to retain some control over the governance. Also at stake was the control of patronage jobs controlled by the mayor in the district’s central administration.
In the end, the city put up an additional $45 million for the schools instead of the $15 million initially offered and the state provided an additional $75 million. In return, the mayor gets to appoint two commission members rather than just one under the governor's initial plan.
The schools were clearly failing, but the state and the city could not agree on reform and local governance issues. As negotiation continued, a coalition of labor unions and community groups called the "Coalition to Keep Our Public Schools Public", filed a lawsuit to stop the state from signing a contract for Edison Schools to manage city schools. The state backed off on a hostile takeover and negotiated with the city. One of the chief concerns was the complete privatization of the school district.
The reform plan was opposed by the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. Protestors like J. Whyatt Mondesire of the NAACP vowed "... to shut down the streets", in protest. Members of the NAACP and a group of black ministers blocked an intersection in front of City Hall during rush-hour traffic. The day before, several hundred students walked out of classes. And earlier a crowd consisting mostly of unionized district employees marched on City Hall, where they disrupted the Christmas tree-lighting ceremony and drowned out the choir with their chants.
On December 21, 2001, Secretary Charles Zogby of the Pennsylvania Department of Education signed a Declaration of Distress for the district. This triggered the state takeover of the school district from the City of Philadelphia. The state of Pennsylvania formed the School Reform Commission to oversee the troubled public school system.
This action was the end result of a months long negotiation under the legislation enacted by the Pennsylvania General Assembly in April 1998. The takeover plan had six main elements: putting the district under the control of a School Reform Commission; hire a CEO; enable the CEO to reform the teaching staff by hiring non-certified staff, reconstitute troubled schools by reassigning or firing staff; allow the commission to hire for-profit firms to manage some schools; convert some schools to charter schools; and reallocate and redistribute school district resources.
At the time of the takeover, it was expected that Edison Schools, Inc. would be one of the prime beneficiaries of the partial privatization. It had been involved in developing the plan for privatization commissioned by then governor Tom Ridge. Edison was not given as many schools as it had hoped, primarily because of conflict of interest concerns Youth organizers from the Philadelphia Student Union staged protests, and engaged in civil disobedience to prevent the School District from handing over control of the central administration to Edison. Youth leaders were ultimately successful in preventing a takeover of the central office, and also prevented the take-over of any high schools by for-profit companies. As of 2007 the company had not delivered the promised improvements.
After the state takeover, the district adopted what is known as the “diverse provider” model, turning over the management of some of the lowest-achieving schools to for-profit and nonprofit organizations and two local universities and providing additional resources to the private managers. The most controversial of the 2001 reforms the partnership program saw "educational management organizations" (EMOs) Edison Schools, Foundations Inc., Victory Schools, Universal Companies, Temple University, and University of Pennsylvania brought in to manage some of the District’s lowest-performing schools.
To date, the schools managed by private providers were doing neither better nor worse than district-wide achievement trends. District-managed schools given additional resources but no specific intervention were likewise doing about as well as other schools in the district. In contrast, district-managed schools given additional resources and a “restructuring” intervention showed larger achievement gains in mathematics.
Under the leadership of the former superintendent Arlene Ackerman and with approval from the School Reform Commission, the district implemented, at the end of 2008, a five-year strategic plan. The strategic plan, called 'Imagine 2014,' outlined many measures to improve student academic achievement. The plan sought to achieve, by 2014, the following:
- "a great city system of schools in which teachers, principals, parents, staff, policymakers, and the entire community collectively focus all energy, efforts, planning and development, resources, and initiatives on building a 21st–century culture of achievement … where children come first, excellence is the norm, talent is nurtured, opportunities are made equal, and success is measured by the steady improvement of teaching and learning in classrooms system-wide … resulting in accelerated student progress … a school system in which all students succeed, families have many quality choices, the staff is great, adults are accountable, and world-class operations support the entire enterprise.
The major components of the plan revolve around increasing accountability, restructuring schools and school support systems to provide more choices for parents, and augmenting parent and community engagement. The school district releases semi-annual report to gauge the progress of the plan.
The Philadelphia School District rates and categorizes schools based on performance. Vanguard schools are considered the leading performing schools within the district and require a special admission process for students. Non-vanguard schools that make adequate yearly progress are considered traditional district schools. Empowerment schools are schools that are struggling. Traditionally, failing schools are privatized and are called renaissance schools.
Staff Hiring and Performance Measure
Under the strategic plan, the district allows principals to hire teachers and staffs and create incentives for high performing teachers and schools, such as tenure. The district also created tracking tools, performance indicators, to gauge the progress of schools and how schools affect student achievement. The district increased the staffs and accessibility of its call centers to provide services and allow parents and community to report directly to the headquarters.
Parent and Community Engagement
The district's many parent and community engagement policies are combined in a central office called the Office of Parent Family, Community, Engagement, and Faith-Based Partnerships. One such program, the Parent University of Philadelphia, offers a variety of free courses to parents, such as basic computer skills, lessons on legal rights of parents, English as a second language, and other evidence-based knowledge and skills enhancement courses. Parent University is funded heavily by Federal Stimulus grant. The district also set up city wide resource centers where parents can get resources seek help from the district on issues that could not be resolved at the school, such as bullying problems or complaints. The number of Parent Ombudsmen, school based staff who works directly with parent, were increased to serve 173 schools. Many of the programs have received local and national attentions for pioneering the field of parent engagement.
Art in the public schools
The school district has an art collection that contains about 1,125 paintings, photos, sculptures and other pieces that are displayed in schools or are stored in an undisclosed facility. The estimated worth was $30 million in 2003, but district spokesperson Fernando Gallard estimates the collection is worth $2 million in 2013.
Pennsylvania public school districts budget and expend funds according to procedures mandated by the General Assembly and the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). An annual operating budget is prepared by school district administrative officials. A uniform form is furnished by the PDE and submitted to the School Reform Commission for approval prior to the beginning of each fiscal year on July 1.
Under Pennsylvania’s Taxpayer Relief Act, Act 1 of the Special Session of 2006, all school districts of the first class A, second class, third class and fourth class must adopt a preliminary budget proposal. The proposal must include estimated revenues and expenditures and the proposed tax rates. This proposed budget must be considered by the School Reform Commission (school board) no later than 90 days prior to the date of the election immediately preceding the fiscal year. The preliminary budget proposal must also be printed and made available for public inspection at least 20 days prior to its adoption. The board of school directors may hold a public hearing on the budget, but are not required to do so. The Commission must give at least 10 days’ public notice of its intent to adopt the final budget according to Act 1 of 2006.
In 2013, the average teacher salary in Philadelphia School District was $70,789.54 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers received was $29,120.55 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $99,910.10. In 2012, the District employed 10,234 teachers and administrators with an average salary of $72,481 and a top salary of $300,000 to Superintendent Arlene Ackerman. The teachers are unionized under the Pennsylvania Federation of Teachers.
In 2010-2011 school year, Philadelphia School District employed 13,204 teachers and administrators with an average salary of $69,554 and a top salary of $348,140 to then Superintendent Arlene Ackerman.
In 2009-2010, the District reported employing 13,475 teachers and administrators with a median salary of $66,371 and a top salary of $325,000. The teacher’s work day is 7 hours with 188 days in the contract year. Additionally, the teachers receive a defined benefit pension, platinum level insurance, professional development reimbursement, paid personal days, paid sick days, and other benefits.
Per pupil spending Philadelphia School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $826.43 per pupil. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil. The Pennsylvania School Boards Association collects and maintains statistics on salaries of public school district employees in Pennsylvania. According to the association's report, the average salary for a superintendent, for the 2007-08 school year, was $122,165. Superintendents and administrators receive a benefit package commensurate with that offered to the district's teachers' union. According to PSBA, the median Superintendent salary rose to over $130,000 in 2011.
In 2010, the District’s per pupil spending had increased to $14,132.04, ranking 192 of PA's 500 public school districts for per pupil spending. In 2011, Pennsylvania’s per pupil spending was $13,467, ranking 6th in the United States. In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was reported as $12,759.
State basic education funding
For the 2014-15 school year, Philadelphia School District will receive $984,000,794 in State Basic Education funding (BEF). The District will also receive $21,639,578 in Accountability Block Grant funding and $12,101,631 in new Ready To Learn Block grant. When coupled with various other state funding like Social Security payment reimbursements, Special Education funding, transportation funding, and various state grants, the District will receive a total of $1,328,105,855 in state funding. The State’s enacted Education Budget includes $5,526,129,000 for the 2014-2015 Basic Education Funding. The Education budget also includes Accountability Block Grant funding at $100 million and $241 million in new Ready to Learn funding for public schools that focus on student achievement and academic success. The State is paying $500.8 million to Social Security on the school employees behalf and another $1.16 billion to the state teachers pension system (PSERS). In total, Pennsylvania’s Education budget for K-12 public schools is $10 billion. This was a $305 million increase over 2013-2014 state spending and the greatest amount ever allotted by the Commonwealth for its public schools.
In the 2013-2014 school year, Philadelphia School District received a 1.6% increase or $983,928,923 in State Basic Education Funding. This is $15,793,043 more than its 2012-2013 state BEF to the District. Additionally, Philadelphia School District received $21,639,578 in Accountability Block Grant funding to focus on academic achievement and level funding for special education services. The District has the option of applying for several other state and federal grants to increase revenues. The Commonwealth’s budget increased Basic Education Funding statewide by $123 million to over $5.5 billion. Most of Pennsylvania’s 500 public school districts received an increase of Basic Education Funding in a range of 0.9% to 4%. Eight public school districts received exceptionally high funding increases of 10% to 16%. The highest increase in state funding was awarded to Austin Area School District which received a 22.5% increase in Basic Education Funding. The highest percent of state spending per student is in the Chester-Upland School District, where roughly 78 percent comes from state coffers. In Philadelphia, it is nearly 49 percent. As a part of the education budget, the state provided the PSERS (Pennsylvania school employee pension fund) with $1,017,000,000 and Social Security payments for school employees of $495 million.
For the 2012-13 school year, Philadelphia School District received $968,135,880 in BEF. The Governor's Executive Budget for 2012-2013 included $9.34 billion for kindergarten through 12th grade public education, including $5.4 billion in basic education funding, which was an increase of $49 million over the 2011-12 budget. In addition to BEF dollars, the Commonwealth provided $100 million for the Accountability Block Grant (ABG) program. Philadelphia School District received $21,639,578 in Accountability Block Grant funding. The state also provided a $544.4 million payment for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS. This amount was a $21,823,000 increase (0.34%) over the 2011-2012 appropriations for Basic Education Funding, School Employees' Social Security, Pupil Transportation, Nonpublic and Charter School Pupil Transportation. Since taking office, Corbett’s first two budgets have restored more than $918 million in support of public schools, compensating for the $1 billion in federal stimulus dollars lost at the end of the 2010-11 school year.
In the 2011-2012 school year, Philadelphia School District received a $968,133,666 allocation, of state Basic Education Funding. Additionally, Philadelphia School District received $21,639,581 in Accountability Block Grant funding and $43,382,470 in Social Security payment reimbursement. The enacted Pennsylvania state Education budget included $5,354,629,000 for the 2011-2012 Basic Education Funding appropriation. This amount was a $233,290,000 increase (4.6%) over the enacted State appropriation for 2010-2011. The highest increase in state basic education funding was awarded to Duquesne City School District of Allegheny County, which got a 49% increase in state funding for 2011-12. In 2010, the District reported that 125,332 students received free or reduced price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level. Some public school Districts experienced a reduction in funding due to the loss of federal stimulus funding which ended in 2011.
In the 2010-2011 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 6.35% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $1,075,020,639 to the Philadelphia School District. This was a $64,189,949 increase over 2009-2010 BEF. One hundred fifty Pennsylvania school districts received the base 2% increase. The highest increase for the 2010-2011 School year, went to Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County, which received a 23.65% increase in state funding. Fifteen (15) Pennsylvania public school districts received a BEF increase of greater than 10%. The state's hold harmless policy regarding state basic education funding continued where each district received at least the same amount as it received the prior school year, even when enrollment had significantly declined. The amount of increase each school district received was set by Governor Edward Rendell and then Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, as a part of the state budget proposal given each February. This was the second year of Governor Rendell’s policy to fund some public school districts at a far greater rate than others. This was the final state education budget negotiated by the Rendell Administration.
In the 2009-10 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided an 8.39% increase in state Basic Education Funding for a total of $1,010,830,689. This was a $78,225,094 increase over 2008-2009 BEF. Ninety (90) Pennsylvania public school districts received the base 2% increase. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received a 22.31% increase in state basic education funding in 2009. The amount of increase each public school district received was set by Governor Edward G. Rendell and the Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, as a part of the state budget proposal.
In 2008-2009 school year, the state Basic Education Funding to the Philadelphia School District was $932,606,246. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 136,938 district students received free or reduced- price lunches due to low family income in the 2007–2008 school year. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Pennsylvania spent $7,824 Per Pupil in the year 2000. This amount increased up to $12,085 by the year 2008.
All Pennsylvania school districts also receive additional funding from the state through several other funding allocations, including Reimbursement of Charter School Expenditures; Special Education Funding; Secondary Career & Technical Education Subsidy; PA Accountability Grants - $47,495 to Camp Hill in 2010; and Educational Assistance Program Funding. Plus all Pennsylvania school districts receive federal dollars for various programs including Special Education and Title I funding for children from low income families. In 2010, Pennsylvania spent over $24 billion for public education - local, state and federal dollars combined.
Accountability Block Grants
Beginning in 2004-2005, the state launched the Accountability Block Grant school funding. This program has provided $2 billion to Pennsylvania’s school districts. The Accountability Block Grant program requires that its taxpayer dollars are focused on specific interventions that are most likely to increase student academic achievement. These interventions include: teacher skills training; All Day Kindergarten; lower class size in Kindergarten through 3rd grade; literacy and math coaching programs (provides teachers with individualized job-embedded professional development to improve their instruction); before or after school tutoring assistance to struggling students. For 2010-11, the District applied for and received $58,735,223 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The District used the funding to provide Full Day kindergarten and preschool funding. In 2009, 100% of the kindergarteners in the Philadelphia School District attended full-day kindergarten.
Ready to Learn grant
Beginning in the 2014-2015 budget, the State funded a new Ready to Learn Grant for public schools. A total of $100 million is allocated through a formula to districts based on the number of students, level of poverty of community as calculated by its market value/personal income aid ratio (MV/PI AR) and the number of English language learners. Ready to Learn Block Grant funds may be used by the Districts for: school safety; Ready by 3 early childhood intervention programs; individualized learning programs; and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs.
Philadelphia School District will receive $12,101,631 in Ready to Learn Grant dollars in addition to State Basic Education funding, Special Education funding, Accountability Block Grant funding, PreK Counts funding, reimbursement for Social Security payments for employees and other state grants which the district must apply to receive.
PreK Counts grant
Philadelphia School District receives state funding to provide taxpayer funded preschool at the elementary schools. For the 2013-14 school year, Philadelphia School District received a Pre K Counts grant of $19,900,120. For the 2011 school year, Philadelphia School District was a high priority for funding due to the high poverty level of children in the district's attendance area. In 2011 the District received $20,512,350 in PreK Count grant funding to fund 2,406 children attending prechool. Enrollment for Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts is targeted to children living in families earning up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level.
For 2014, the state's PreK Counts program received a $10 million increase to $97,284,000. In 2013, the state’s PreK Counts program received $87,284,000. In 2010, the PreK Counts program received $83.6 million statewide in Governor Corbett’s education budget. In 2007-08 the state funded Pre-K Counts at $75 million. Philadelphia School District received funding in 2007-08. In 2009-10, the Philadelphia School District received $20,512,350 to provide preschool to 2,406 children.
In addition to PreK Counts funding, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania also supplements the federal Head Start preschool program with an additional funding on an annual basis. In 2014-2015 this will be $39,178,000. The program is available to low income children residing within the District through private providers. In 2013, Pennsylvania contributed $39,178,000 to Head Start. In 2010, Head Start received $37.6 million in Pennsylvania state education dollars. Since 2003, Pennsylvania has more than doubled the number of preschoolers in publicly funded pre-kindergarten through a mulipronged system including: school-based pre-kindergarten, Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts through private providers, Early Intervention, Head Start and Head Start Supplemental, and the school district’s use of Accountability Block Grants. Over 100,000 Pennsylvania preschoolers participate in state taxpayer funded pre-kindergarten programs. In 2013, the federal government spends $8 billion for preschool programs nationwide. In 2013, Pennsylvania was awarded a $51.7 million federl grant to fund early learning programs. The funding will be used to create 50 Early Childhood Education Community Innovation Zones in areas where the lowest-performing public schools, including charter schools, exist. The federal dollars will not be used to provide seats for children in preschools. Instead the money will be used to build bureaucray and added training for teachers/providers.
Classrooms for the Future grant
The Classroom for the Future state program provided districts with hundreds of thousands of extra state funding to buy laptop computers for each core curriculum high school class (English, Science, History, Math) and paid for teacher training to optimize the computers use. The program was funded from 2006 to 2009. The School District received $886,699 in 2006-07. In 2007-08, Philadelphia School District received an additional $1,688,149. The District received $6,834,225 in 2008-09. The highest funding statewide was awarded to Philadelphia City School District - $9,409,073. The grant program was discontinued by Governor Edward Rendell as part of the 2009-10 state budget.
Science It’s Elementary grant
Andrew Hamilton Elementary School and Overbrook Elementary School successfully applied to participate and received a Science It’s Elementary grant in 2008-09. For the 2008-09 school year, the program was offered in 143 schools statewide reaching 66,973 students across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In 2007, the Pennsylvania Department of Education initiated an effort to improve science instruction in the Commonwealth’s public elementary schools. Called Science: It’s Elementary, the program was a hands on instruction approach for elementary science classes that develops problem-solving and critical thinking skills. To encourage schools to adopt the program’s standards aligned curriculum, the state provided a grant to cover the costs of materials and extensive mandatory teacher training. The district was required to develop a three-year implementation plan for the participating school. The school district administration was required to appoint a district liaison who was paid $3,000 by PDE to serve as the conduit of all information between the district and the Department and its agents along with submitting orders and distributing supplies to implementing teachers. For the 2006-07 state education budget, $10 million was allocated for the program. The grant program was expanded to $14.5 million in the 2008-09 budget. The grant was discontinued in the state’s 2011 budget by Governor Edward G. Rendell.
Federal Stimulus grant
The Philadelphia District received an extra $587,979,707 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students. The funding was limited to the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years. Due to the temporary nature of the funding, schools were repeatedly advised by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee, the Governor and the Pennsylvania School Board Association, to use the funds for one-time expenditures like acquiring equipment, making repairs to buildings, training teachers to provide more effective instruction or purchasing books and software.
Race to the Top grant
District officials applied for the federal Race to the Top grant which would have provided tens of millions of additional federal dollars, to improve student academic achievement. due to the low academic outcomes in the District they were eligible for an additional $750 per child. Participation required the administration, the school board and the local teachers' union to sign an agreement to prioritize improving student academic success. In Pennsylvania, 120 public school districts and 56 charter schools agreed to participate. Pennsylvania was not approved for the grant. The failure of other PA public school districts to agree to participate was cited as one reason that Pennsylvania was not approved.
21st Century learning grant
In July 2003, Philadelphia School District received a federal grant which is run by the PDE. The grant calls for the establishment and sustainability of community learning centers that provide additional educational services to students in high-poverty and low-performing schools. The grant was competitive. Applications for the grants were reviewed and scored by a panel of representatives from the educational field and professional grant writers. The District received $2 million in 2003. The School District was also funded from 2010-2013. The District received the highest funding available: $750,000 (2010), $500,000 (2011), and $500,000 (2012) While 101 entities applied for the funding, only 66 were approved including eight charter schools.
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