by Karel Kilimnik
May 7, 2018
Lame-Duck SRC Continues Spending Spree
The lame-duck SRC, moving towards its final day on June 30th, continues to hold fast to its worst practices of lack of transparency and public notification. After several emails from APPS to SRC Commissioners, the Resolution List for the April 19thmeeting finally appeared on the district website on April 12. According to the negotiated, court-ordered settlement between the SRC and APPS on the district’s pattern of violations of the PA Sunshine Act, Resolutions must be posted at least 14 days before the meeting. It is truly baffling as to why this occurred for this particular meeting as this was posted: The heading on the Description simply states: “This meeting of the School Reform Commission is a Budget Hearing for the purpose of hearing public comment on the FY19 Budgets. There are no action items. The School Reform Commission is scheduled to vote on the FY19 Budget at its Action Meeting on May 24, 2018.” We expect the incoming School Board to do a better job of informing the public without having to be reminded.
As Diane Payne reportedin the April 26 edition of Ears on the SRC, “Part-Time Commissioner” Bill Green arrived an hour and a half after the meeting began. Despite missing staff presentations on the two charters up for a vote (Eastern University and Franklin Towne Middle CS), as well as almost all public speakers, Green voted on all resolutions, including one to approve the deeply flawed Franklin Towne Middle Charter School’s “revised” application. Despite the Charter Schools Office report citing almost thirty instances of FTCMS failing to address concerns in the original evaluation, and despite CSO Director DawnLynne Kacer stating that there were few “substantial” differences in the revised application, the SRC voted 3-1 to approve “with conditions”, with Commissioner Marge Neff voting to deny. The actual revision came from the SRC, who took it upon themselves to come up with almost twenty conditions, most of which were not read into the record and were not revealed to the public until the day after the meeting.
What none of the commissioners ever told the public was WHY they felt the need to go to such lengths to approve this new charter. It seems they are sending a message to other charter applicants: Denied at the first charter school application hearing? No problem. Submit a barely modified revised application and you can count on us to approve, with no justification or explanation, and guarantee your CEO and investors years of funding. So far, Philadelphia Hebrew Charter and APM Charter have submitted revised applications to the SRC; they will probably be voted on in May.