Two School Reform Commission members have resigned their seats, officials announced Thursday, a move signaling that the transition to local control of Philadelphia's school district is well underway.
Chair Joyce Wilkerson and Commissioner Christopher McGinley are both on the short list for seats on the new nine-member school board, and apparently will get them. They resigned, presumably to clear the way for board appointment; they could not simultaneously serve on the SRC and seek another office, such as on the new board.
Gov. Wolf named Estelle Richman, a current commissioner, as SRC chair.
Two familiar names are returning to fill the vacant seats. Mayor Kenney named Marjorie Neff, a former SRC chair, and Fran Burns, the district's former chief operations officer, who recently left to teach at Villanova University. Burns and Neff will serve until June 30, when the commission ceases to exist.
"In this time of transition from the SRC to the new Board of Education, it is important to have two voices on the SRC who are ready from day one," Kenney said in a statement. "Marge Neff and Fran Burns need no introduction to the issues that face the School District of Philadelphia."
Superintendent William R. Hite Jr., in a statement, called Neff and Burns "committed public servants and strong public education advocates who have the experience and expertise to support a smooth changeover to the new Board of Education."
Both McGinley and Wilkerson hinted in their resignation letters that their time managing the School District was not finished.
"I look forward to continuing to work with you and ensuring a successful transition to the new Board of Education," McGinley wrote.
"I see tremendous opportunity ahead," wrote Wilkerson.
A spokeswoman for the mayor said Wilkerson and McGinley had to resign to be formally considered for school board seats.
Neff was the longtime principal of Masterman School, a top district magnet. She was appointed to the SRC in 2014 and resigned in 2016, saying she had been honored to serve but was frustrated at times by the slow pace of change. Burns is the former executive director of the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority and spent four years as the school system's operations chief, resigning in 2017.
The new, nine-member board, which must be appointed by April 5, will manage a $3 billion budget and 205,000 students in traditional public and charter schools.
Kenney will meet with all final candidates and announce the full school board next week, officials said. He is choosing from a pool of 45 candidates advanced by a nominating panel.