Superintendent issues plan for Philadelphia schools

PHILADELPHIA - February 17, 2014

Dr. William Hite's report lays out what he calls four "anchor" goals:

-To have 100 percent of students who graduate ready to go to college and start their careers.

-To have every 8-year-old read on his or her grade level.

-To make sure all schools have great principals and teachers.

-To make sure the district has the money it needs with zero debt.

The question remains: Is this a real possibility or a pipe dream? Teachers have been working without a contract since August and negotiations have gone nowhere on issues like classroom assignments, pay cuts and contributing to their own health plan.

"If everyone else is sacrificing, and this is our largest group of employees, then there are things we can create in terms of investments just by those individuals contributing to their benefits," Hite said.

He calls the early literacy goal the most urgent for the student population.

"Once children are proficient on the state assessment, more children can get into college," Hite said.

Hite pointed out that Mayor Michael Nutter and Philadelphia City Council are still haggling over how to split up $122 million of new annual sales tax revenue: how much for the schools and how much to pay down the pension debt service.

In a statement issued late Monday, teacher's union president Jerry Jordan said he supports aspirations but, quote "We're asking educator to make bricks with straw. We look forward to seeing the district's proposal for financing its new action plan."

Much of the action plan is based upon solving the school district's perpetual money crisis. Hite said he'll release a details prospectus on the money picture this Thursday.

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