Nowak on school transformation | Council’s budget wrangling continues | waterfront zoning overlay delayed | shad upriver

Jeremy Nowak, president of the William Penn Foundation, did a Q&A with the Public School Notebook on the radical school transformation plan prepared by consultants financed by the foundation. Nowak forcefully defends the Boston Consulting Group’s plan, and disagrees with the assertion that the plan amounts to the School District’s dissolution. “SRC and District leaders are looking at what works well in many high-performing schools – District-run and charter-operated – and determining the most effective and efficient way to offer those options to more students,” Nowak said. “Moreover, the District has very real financial problems, many of them based on years of refusing to make tough decisions. If there are alternatives to closing a projected (cumulative) budget deficit over the next five years of more than $1 billion, then we need to hear them.”

City Council blew its first budget deadline Thursday, but Council plans to meet Tuesday hoping to reach a compromise on the mayor’s property tax reform and school funding, the Daily News reports. State Sen. Larry Farnese has introduced an amendment to necessary enabling legislation at the state level that would decouple AVI and school funding, forcing Council to vote on each separately.

The new zoning overlay for the Central Delaware was finally introduced in City Council this week, but not soon enough to enact it before the new zoning code goes into effect in August. PlanPhilly’s Kellie Patrick Gates explains that waterfront advocates fear that in the intervening months, developers will be able to pull zoning permits for project that conform to the base zoning but not the overlay, which supports the waterfront master plan. “The biggest nightmare scenario is death by a thousand permits on the waterfront,” CDAG and Northern Liberties Neighbors Association President Matt Ruben said.

For the first time in nearly 200 years shad have been observed in the Schuylkill beyond Phoenixville, reports the Philly Watersheds blog. The upriver observations prove the success of dam-removal and fish ladder projects, which have helped restore native Shad populations.

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