Ears on the Board of Education: April 22, 2021

by Lisa Haver and Lynda Rubin

The Board continued its repressive speaker policy by excluding four APPS members from speaking at this meeting. Their topics were also excluded. The sign-up window opened at 5 PM Monday and closed just a few hours later, so it is likely that many other members of the public were not heard.  Education activists who can only speak every other month are now limited to an average of one minute per month to speak before the Board votes on items representing hundreds of millions of dollars.  

APPS did achieve some victories.  The Board voted to withdraw the Item to grant KIPP Charters several amendments including enrollment expansion.  APPS had written a letter outlining the many issues, beginning with the various names of the school on different websites, asking that the Item be withdrawn until the facts were sorted out by the CSO and presented for public scrutiny, including the reasons why the CSO was recommending that KIPP’s entire request be granted. APPS had also communicated to the Board in written testimony, letters and research reports about why they should vote to proceed with the non-renewals of Universal Bluford and Daroff charter schools. The Board voted for non-renewal.  

To read more, click here.

APPS and Community Members Speak Before the Board of Education 4.22.2021

Transparent Budget Process Needed; Reverse Speaker Procedure; Deny Item 4 KIPP Schools

by Karel Kilimnik

Equity in Resources–Certified Teacher Librarians

by Barbara McDowell Dowdall

Nuanced Compassion of Caring Adults

by Ilene Poses

Equitable Resources and a People’s Master Facilities Plan

by Akira Drake Rodriguez

Invest in Our Children

by Molly McGlone

Will Budget Office Cherry-Pick Results to Fit Their Priorities?

by Daniel Scholnick

Do the Right Thing to Gain Back Community Trust

by Stephanie Fahringer

Policy Committee Meeting: April 15, 2021

by Lynda Rubin

The Board of Education abolished its Parent and Community Engagement Committee one year after its inception, having held only two meetings.  Last year, the Board eliminated two more, the Finance and Facilities Committee and the Student Achievement and Support Committee. Only the Policy Committee remains, meeting not monthly, but quarterly. The Board had established the four committees with the promise of more transparency and dialogue with parents, educators, students and community members about proposed action items and general issues of concern. 

President Joyce Wilkerson and Maria McColgan co-chaired this meeting. Board members Reginald Streater, Mallory Fix Lopez, Cecelia Thompson, Angela McGiver, Julia Danzy, Leticia Egea-Hinton, and Lisa Salley attended, along with Student Representative Keylisha Diaz. 

The agenda included proposed revisions of Policy 105, Curriculum Development; Policy 206, Assignment of students within the District; Policy 614, Payroll Authorization; Policy 616, Payments; and Policy 704, Maintenance. Policy 705, Workplace and Construction Project Safety, was amended. New policies are Policy 708, Environmental Management and Policy, and Policy 800, Records Management. The elimination of Policy 909, Municipal Government Relations, was also on the agenda. McColgan announced that the Board would not vote on these actions until after the third reading, this meeting being the first.

Continue reading

The Board Should Withdraw Action Item 4: KIPP Amendment Proposal

April 20, 2021

Dear President Wilkerson and Board Members of the Board, 

We are writing in reference to Item 4 on the April 22 2021 Action Item agenda, the amendment request from KIPP charter schools. KIPP is requesting numerous changes, including name, location, grade and enrollment expansion, recruitment area expansion, and the official beginning and end dates for the 5-year term of “KIPP Parkside Charter School”. There are a number of inconsistencies in the Item’s description along with a number of issues that should be addressed before the Board considers this Item. 

First, the District’s webpage lists no KIPP Parkside Charter School.  There is a KIPP West Philadelphia and a KIPP West Philadelphia Preparatory. The address of the first is 5070 Parkside, so we assume that the Item refers to that school. 

The District website lists KIPP West Philadelphia Charter as a K-3 schools. However, the 2017 SRC resolution linked in Item 4 states that this school would not include Grade 3 until the 2021-22 school year.  When was KIPP granted an amendment for grade expansion after its initial approval? 

The SRC resolution also indicates that “KIPP Parkside…shall not open until the 2019-20 school year.”  Why would a school in its second year of operation need to move?  KIPP’s operators told the SRC that the Parkside community needed a KIPP charter school.  Item 4 gives no explanation of why KIPP’s operators changed their mind so quickly or whether they had actually intended to stay in that community. 

Continue reading