Although the late, great Philadelphian Wilt Chamberlain stood 7-foot-1, a growing number of folks think he'll fit on a U.S. postage stamp - in fact, they think it's most fitting.
Yesterday the School Reform Commission and Superintendent Arlene Ackerman joined the growing chorus of those advocating to honor the Overbrook High School alumnus, who died in 1999 at the age of 63.
The school district's citation "exhorting" the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee of the United States Postal Service to commemorate Chamberlain follows the Philadelphia City Council's passage of a similar resolution last week.
The Philadelphia 76ers, Chamberlain's team from 1965 to 1968, have also written a letter in support of the only player in NBA history to score 100 points in a single game. (That was as a Philadelphia Warrior in 1962).
The interest in honoring Chamberlain was sparked by a February article by Donald Hunt of the Philadelphia Tribune.
Selena Gross, Chamberlain's sister, said her younger brother is worthy of stamp treatment not just because he was a great player, but because he also left scholarship money to Overbrook High and other organizations that work with youth.
"That's more important to me. Young people should know that we need to do that. When we have made it, we need to share with other folks," Gross said following the reform-commission meeting.
Cathy Yarosky, a spokeswoman for the Postal Service, said anyone with a suggestion for a stamp subject can submit it by writing to:
USPS Stamp Design
1735 N. Lynn St. Room 5013
Arlington, VA 22209-6432
For more information on the stamp selection process visit the Postal Service Web site: www. usps.com/communications/organization/csac.htm.
Gross' husband, Claude, who was Chamberlain's teammate on the Christian Street "Y" team, said his friend was, and still is, a role model.
"He's a standout idol to us. He was an upstanding guy who never had anything . . . against him - no drugs," he said. "Young people need to know more about people like him."
In other business, the reform commission also indicated that it is ready to reduce the number of schools that are privately managed - an arrangement that began after the state took control of the city school district in 2002.
Of three staff recommendations, the commission is leaning toward approving the one that calls for the lowest performing of the 38 schools to be returned to district management in September. Officials said those schools are characterized by high teacher turnover, unfocused professional-development offerings and numerous violent incidents, among other problems. The recommendation calls for the remaining schools to be placed into two other classifications:
* "Limited progress" schools will each receive a 12-month contract with their current manager, but may receive different reforms in 2009-10.
* "Positive progress" schools will each receive a 12-month contract with their current manager, and those managers may receive multiyear renewal contracts beginning in 2009-10.
The fates of each school will be revealed next week, said SRC Chairwoman Sandra Dungee Glenn. *