Saying it was time "for a fresh look" at the Philadelphia School District, Gov. Rendell and Mayor Nutter yesterday named two lawyers and an educator who was trained as an artist to the School Reform Commission.
With the appointments, Rendell and Nutter have remade the five-member commission - established after the 2001 state takeover of the schools - signaling a new era in leadership of the 167,000-student district.
They announced their selections at a briefing packed with politicians and educational activists at the High School of the Future in West Philadelphia.
Rendell also announced he had nominated Sandra Dungee Glenn, the former commission chairwoman, to the state Board of Education.
"Your work is not done," Rendell told Dungee Glenn, who had been part of the district's governance for nearly a decade and attended the briefing.
Nutter named Robert L. Archie Jr., a partner at Duane Morris L.L.P., and Johnny Irizarry, director of the Center for Hispanic Excellence at the University of Pennsylvania, to four-year terms.
Rendell said he nominated Joseph Dworetzky, a shareholder at Hangley Aronchick Segal & Pudlin who was city solicitor from 1993-96, while Rendell was mayor, to a five-year term. Just a few days ago, Nutter appointed Dworetzky as vice chair of a new 18-member task force he established to study city tax policy.
The governor also reappointed Heidi Ramirez, director of the Urban Education Collaborative at Temple University, to a full five-year term. She joined the commission a year ago to fill the remainder of the term of James Nevels, who resigned.
"The Philadelphia School District has made enormous strides with Sandra Dungee Glenn at its helm," Rendell said, "and I am grateful for her service and her commitment to the city's children. I am confident that the incoming members of the School Reform Commission will build on that progress and work with Superintendent [Arlene] Ackerman to implement the next phase of Philadelphia's strategy to increase student achievement."
The law that led to the state takeover of the city schools gives the governor authority to appoint the commission chair. Rendell said he had selected Archie, a West Philadelphia High School graduate, a former math teacher who has been a member of the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, to that post.
The nominees said they did not plan dramatic changes.
"I am probably going to pursue the goals that were set by the former SRC," Archie said, pulling out the objectives the commission had set for improving student performance.
Archie and Irizarry will be sworn in April 8 - the date of the next SRC meeting - and take their seats that afternoon, Nutter said.
The Rendell nominations must be approved by the state Senate. However, Ramirez will be able to continue to serve since she is being reappointed. At least three members of the commission must be present to conduct business.
The new members will join Denise McGregor Armbrister, who took her seat in 2007.
Rendell and Nutter pointed to the academic gains the district has achieved since 2002, including doubling the number of students scoring proficient in math and reading, rising from 24 percent to 45 percent in reading and 20 percent to 49 percent in math.
Later, the governor said: "Not withstanding the great work that Sandra Dungee Glenn has done, we wanted a fresh look."
He said the commission needed to get the business community involved with the schools and said Archie and Dworetzky would be able to accomplish that.
Nutter said he has replaced the members of most boards and commissions since he became mayor in January 2008. "Sandra has done great things," Nutter said. "As I said to her when we talked, this is no reflection on her great work."
He said he felt it was time to make changes so he did not reappoint either Dungee Glenn or Martin G. Bednarek, who had been appointed by Mayor John F. Street.
"Every now and then you make a change and you bring in some new players," Nutter said. "We've got a new superintendent. I'm a relatively new mayor. The governor, of course, has been doing great work. Put that together, it's a new team for a new day and a new time."
Nutter, Rendell, and Ackerman praised the hard work of Dungee Glenn and Bednarek. Both attended the briefing and pledged to create a smooth transition for their replacements.
Dungee Glenn said she was leaving the district "in a much better condition academically and fiscally as a result of the SRC's first seven years."
Bednarek, a Northeast banker who is active in recreation and athletic programs, said: "I will step down from the SRC with a sense of satisfaction in having worked with my colleagues to make a positive difference in the lives of Philadelphia's children."
Yesterday's announcements capped a week of intense speculation about whom Nutter and Rendell would name to the governing body that replaced the Board of Education when the state took over the schools.