After seven shorthanded months, Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission will soon have its fifth and final member.
The Pennsylvania Senate unanimously confirmed Estelle Richman’s appointment to the SRC Wednesday.
Gov. Tom Wolf appointed Richman, a former state cabinet member under Ed Rendell, to the board Oct. 14. Her nomination lingered in legislative limbo for more than half a year before finally getting the final OK from Harrisburg.
Richman still has to be officially sworn in by a judge before she can take her seat on the SRC.
Richman replaces Feather Houstoun, a Tom Corbett appointee who resigned in October near the end of her term.
Richman said she met Tuesday with Republican legislators prior to her confirmation. In that meeting, she confirmed her support of charter schools, she said, and committed to striking a “fair” labor deal with the city’s teachers union.
Richman also told lawmakers that dissolving the SRC in favor of a local school board does not rank among her top priorities, although she said she did not field any questions on the topic.
The SRC — which has three members appointed by the governor and two members appointed by the mayor of Philadelphia — has the ability to dissolve itself with a majority vote. It was established more than 15 years ago in exchange for more state funding. Pointing to the district’s continued financial woes as proof, a growing chorus of Philadelphia politicians and advocates say Harrisburg hasn’t met its obligations and that the city should reclaim control of its schools.
When news of the confirmation broke Wednesday, Richman was at a City Hall budget hearing for the School District of Philadelphia. She received warm applause when Councilwoman Cherelle Parker announced the news.
Other officials chimed in on her confirmation, as well.
“The confirmation of Estelle Richman to the School Reform Commission is welcome news for the students and families of Philadelphia,” said superintendent William Hite in a statement. “Estelle has long been an advocate for the most vulnerable members of our communities and holds deeply the belief that education can open a lifetime of opportunities for a child.
“Estelle’s experience is unmatched, and her breadth of knowledge and grasp of a diverse array of policy issues make her a perfect fit for the School Reform Commission,” Wolf said in a statement of his own.