School Talk: On first day of school, Jackson tries its best, Inky says

Andrew Jackson pic from
Andrew Jackson pic from

Public schools opened yesterday with fewer teachers, aides and counselors, and to highlight the challenges, the Inquirer headed to Andrew Jackson Elementary at 12th and Federal.

At least Principal Lisa Ciaranca Kaplan got good marks from the Inquirer:

Kaplan – who has worked for the School District for more than 30 years as a teacher and a principal, and who was named one of seven district principals of the year last spring – deftly juggled it all. “But I don’t know if I can keep this momentum up all year,” she said. “I’m good now, but it’s the first day.”

The school has nearly 100 more students than it did last year, possibly a testament to the renewed faith in the public school, but no school nurse (Kaplan was administering medication), classes with up to 36 students, four fewer teachers, no full-time counselor and fewer aides.

There’s some silver lining:

The Jackson school, with pre-K to eighth grade, has attracted lots of outside support. Its home and school association recently raised $127,000 from an anonymous donor for a new playground and program. The school’s music teacher, Chris Argerakis, runs an 11-member student rock band called Home and plays for Jackson donations. The school has partnerships with the University of Pennsylvania, Villanova University, Swarthmore College, and other places, all helping to provide the extras that the School District’s deficit-plagued budget can’t cover.

Still, a sad state of affairs. Kudos to the staff who are doing their best at all the other schools.

In other South Philly school news: