Superintendent addresses Northeast Chamber

The end of last week was busy for School Su­per­in­tend­ent Wil­li­am Hite. Still, he made it up to the North­east.

There was a 14-hour meet­ing of the School Re­form Com­mis­sion on Thursday and then there was the Fri­day an­nounce­ment City Coun­cil­man Bill Green would be SRC’s new chair­man and would be form­ally ap­poin­ted by Gov. Tom Corbett later that day.

Hite began Fri­day in May­fair, speak­ing to mem­bers of the Great­er North­east Phil­adelphia Cham­ber of Com­merce at Lin­coln High School, and stress­ing in his re­marks that the city’s 260,000 school­chil­dren must be provided with “ac­cess and op­por­tun­ity.”

That’s chal­len­ging, he said, in a large urb­an school dis­trict. Not even on the job 18 months, Hite said he has had to preside over a fin­an­cial crisis, school clos­ings, in­fra­struc­ture prob­lems, a couple of cycles of lay­offs and “a lot of anxi­ety.”

Still, real achieve­ment is in the classroom, he said, and is in the hands of teach­ers. “The single best pre­dict­or of a child’s suc­cess,” he said, “is the qual­ity of the teach­ers.”

A goal for teach­ers and ad­min­is­trat­ors, he said, is to look early at chil­dren’s abil­ity to read. Every 8-year-old should be read­ing at grade level, he said.

Al­most 60,000 chil­dren do not at­tend dis­trict schools, which means the dis­trict has a lot of va­cant seats, res­ult­ing in 34 school clos­ings in the last few years, he said. 

Still, he said, the dis­trict has seen in­creases in test scores at some schools.

The test for his ad­min­is­tra­tion, he said, is to “not spend one more cent than we have.”

The dis­trict got less money than Hite has asked for. He told Cham­ber mem­bers he wanted a com­bined $180 mil­lion from the city and state, but got only $112 mil­lion.

The prob­lem is to en­sure schools are fun­ded, he said.

Hite took only a few ques­tions from Cham­ber mem­bers be­fore leav­ing for Cent­ral High, where Corbett was sup­posed to form­ally ap­point Green and Re­pub­lic­an Farah Ji­me­nez to the SRC. The gov­ernor later can­celed that event. ••

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