Groups push for referendum on SRC this fall in Philly

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 Council Chief Clerk Michael Decker receives petitions calling for a locally elected school board to run the Philadelphia public schools. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Council Chief Clerk Michael Decker receives petitions calling for a locally elected school board to run the Philadelphia public schools. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Petitions bearing 40,000 signatures are calling for a nonbinding referendum on creating a locally elected school board to run the Philadelphia public schools.

Right now, the School Reform Commission, which is appointed by the governor and mayor, is in charge of the city school district.

Katie Sipp, director of the group Pennsylvania Working Families, said it took about seven weeks to collect the signatures on the petitions that have been delivered to the city.

The 40,000 gathered is “twice the number that we need to qualify this measure for the ballot because anger in this city against Gov. Corbett and his failed measures is extreme,” Sipp said. “And we really want to see this happen.”

But taking back control of the schools without enough financial support from Harrisburg would not be good, cautioned Donna Cooper of Public Citizens for Children and Youth.

“I don’t think that the problem at the Philadelphia School District is solved by changing where the governing structure is,” she said. “The solution to the Philadelphia school system is one that starts first with a fair state school-funding formula.”

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers helped collect about half the signatures. The union potentially could have new contract terms imposed on it for the fall by the district and SRC.

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