BY SUSAN SNYDER INQUIRER STAFF WRITER Philadelphia School District chief executive officer Paul Vallas, who brought hope and a whirlwind of change to the 174,000-student system, says he will leave soon and take his family home to Chicago.”I’m done,” Vallas said in a telephone interview last night. “I made a commitment to stay here five years. I think five years is enough.”
He said he would at least finish the school year but would not be specific about a departure date.
The news came as no surprise to district insiders, who have heard the rumors for weeks that Vallas would be exiting.
Tensions among Vallas and the School Reform Commission and Mayor Street have flared in recent months, after his disclosure in October that the district’s $2.04 billion budget had a $73.3 million deficit and faced large cuts for next year to balance the spending plan. As a result, the commission took some spending authority away from Vallas and put it in the hands of its own fiscal monitors.
Despite the fiscal troubles, Vallas’ administration has presided over a substantial rise in standardized test scores, a proliferation of smaller, theme-based high schools, and a more cohesive, standardized curriculum. But a majority of students fail to meet proficiency levels in reading and math, students fail or drop out in alarming numbers, an ambitious capital building program has hit snags, and a rise in teacher assaults this year has exasperated educators.
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