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Outsourcing contract to be revised

Superintendent Hite plans to ask the School Reform Commission to revise the district’s controversial contract with Source4Teachers.

SCHOOL DISTRICT Superintendent William Hite's patience appears to have run out on Source4Teachers.

Hite plans to ask the School Reform Commission tonight to revise the district's two-year, $34 million contract with the Cherry Hill-based outsourcing firm, district spokesman Fernando Gallard confirmed yesterday.

Source4Teachers has failed to provide the "guaranteed" number of substitute teachers for the district, resulting in a chaos of vacancies. Hite last month said his patience had run out.

News of proposed changes to the contract was first reported by KYW 1060 radio earlier yesterday.

Gallard would not specify what would change in the contract.

"They're looking at revising the contract and focusing their work on more specific things that we believe they would be more successful at," Gallard said.

The multiyear contract won't be canceled, even though Source4Teachers has yet to meet its "guaranteed" fill rate of 75 percent on the first day of school.

Monday's fill rate was 27 percent and Tuesday's was 31 percent, higher than the 11-to-12-percent average during the first week of school.

"If we cancel the contract, as Dr. Hite has stated, we will be back to ground zero, which means more students will be without substitute teachers," Gallard said. "We will lose the hundreds of substitute teachers who are already part of the Source4Teachers database. . . . We believe that they can continue to improve on their work, and that's why we are working with them to make sure they do that."

Susan Gobreski, executive director of Education Voters PA, understands the decision - to a point.

"They need to cancel this contract, but I understand why they might need a little time," she said.

The district needs to reinstate "the previous system they had, which was working better than the Source4Teachers system they now have," Gobreski said. The prior system was managed by the district, and around three weeks of continuous teaching, substitutes would be part of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.

"They need to start lining people up. They need to put pieces in place for a replacement system and they need to do some serious analysis and reflection on how the Source4Teachers situation was so badly botched."

Gallard said he believes the firm has made strides, from the low fill rates to the higher but still low rates of 27 and 31 percent.

"Well, clearly it is progress but not fast enough progress," he said. "The numbers are going in the right direction."

On Twitter: @ReginaMedina

Online: ph.ly/DNEducation

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