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December 1, 2015 / olneypost

Kenney’s first community meeting: Make Philly’s public schools better.

Jim Kenney was all ears at Central High School Monday Night.

Jim Keney addresses the crowd at Central High School last night.

“Schools will and can be the center of our universe,” said Jim Kenney at his first community town house meeting as mayor-elect.

Kenney’s first community town house meeting was in Central High School’s auditorium last night to an energized crowd of about 50 people. Concerned citizens, police officers, local media and local politicians (Derrick Green, Helen Gym, Marian Tasco, Cherelle Parker, Cindy Bass, Steve Kinsey, Art Haywood) filled the audience.

State Representative and 2007 mayoral candidate Dwight Evans introduced Kenney and Kenney’s transition team and staff. Kenney mentioned the diversity on his team that he intentionally did to mirror the variety of Philadelphia.

Kenney and Evans said the meeting was to hear directly from citizens about what they want or want changed.

Kenney sat on stage with his team jotting down notes as most people said they wanted less charter schools. Teachers from Cooke Middle School in Logan voiced their displeasure with the lack of community involvement after Superintendent Dr. Hite recommended that the school become a charter. Others said they wanted better schools that could match Central’s historical high academic achievements.

“We are trying to bolster our public schools,” said Kenney. He and his staff reiterated that they weren’t officially in office until January 4 and couldn’t implement anything now.

Kenney also mentioned starting community schools in

Many questions were asked.

Many questions were asked for mayor-elect Kenney. Not many on them were answered. Kenney and his staff want to hear first-hand from residents.

Philadelphia. The community schools would incorporate government agencies that could help students and families before difficulties led to bad behavior or drop outs. Kenney said the new model would not let the state or district off the hook, but would be a creative way to deal with Philadelphia’s public schools.

People in the audience also called for expanding deaf language accessibility in the city, developing local businesses, passing immigration laws, expanding renters’ rights, dealing with gentrification, helping first-time home owners and stopping trash and air pollution. Kenney was also asked about high violence and imprisonment.

Kenney said that behaviors would have to change before people went to prison to prevent violence and illegal activity. He said working with nearby businesses with open space to give children and their parents somewhere to do something productive after school would be a part of his administration.

Kenney’s second of four town hall meetings will be tonight at 7:30 at South Philly High School.

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