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City Council to have hearing and vote on Board of Ed nominees Friday

Screenshot of the virtual board of education committee meeting on April 23.

Screenshot of the virtual board of education committee meeting on April 23.

This article originally appeared on The Notebook.

City Council will hold a virtual hearing Friday morning on Mayor Kenney’s nominations to the Board of Education before voting on them at its scheduled 11 a.m. meeting.

The Mayor has renominated eight of the current nine members and chose Ameen Akbar to replace board Vice President Wayne Walker, who is stepping down for personal reasons.

Under the City Charter, a new board must be seated on May 1. This year marks the first time that City Council will have a chance to weigh in on the mayor’s choices. That change was made when the local board was reconstituted after the District spent nearly two decades being governed by the state-dominated School Reform Commission.

Since the mayor named Akbar, board member Chris McGinley announced that he also would step down on April 30. Kenney has not yet chosen a replacement for McGinley and has asked the Education Nominating Panel to reconvene and submit a new list of names.

The panel is charged vetting candidates and giving the mayor three names for each vacancy, which it did in February, when it submitted the names of all eight current members, including McGinley, plus 19 others.

Sarah Peterson, communications director for the city’s Office of Education, said the mayor was seeking new names, because the panel “did not know about Chris McGinley’s resignation when they considered candidates and made their recommendations…and the mayor wants to make sure they can select nominees with that knowledge by reconvening when practical.”

McGinley has said he will not stay on past April 30, so the Board will likely operate for a time with a vacancy.

The hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. and its regular meeting for 11 a.m, when it is scheduled to vote on resolutions regarding the board nominees.

But the main item of business for the morning is to consider a revised budget proposal from Mayor Kenney, which is expected to show a sharp decline in expected revenues that will impact city services and the School District, which has no taxing power of its own and gets most of its revenue from the city and the state. The District has already announced that its once balanced budget is anticipating a shortfall of $38 million by fiscal 2022 fiscal year and $1 billion by 2025 due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on city and state revenue.

The hearing and meeting will be held virtually and aired on Channels 64 or 40 and live-streamed at   www.PHLCouncil.com/watch. Speakers interested in making public comment must call 215-686-3406 by 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 30, and submit their name, a call-back number, and say whether they are for or against any specific bill or resolution on the agenda. They will be called during the session and have up to three minutes to speak.

The Board of Education is scheduled to meet on Thursday evening and has a full agenda that includes votes on the renewals of several charter schools and a resolution calling for an overhaul of the state’s charter school funding formula.

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