Board Must Change Its Spending Priorities

Budget Hearing: April 21, 2022

by Lynda Rubin

The Board of Education scheduled its annual budget hearing just one hour before its April action meeting. With a lengthy presentation from Chief Financial Officer Uri Monson on the agenda, followed by questions from the Board and testimony from nine public speakers, there was not much time for careful deliberation about the Board’s own spending priorities. It seemed at times that the tail once again was wagging the dog, with Board members’ comments and questions reflecting Board compliance rather than Board leadership.

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Will Board Cancel Contracts without Explanation?

Ears on the Board of Education: April 21, 2022

by Diane Payne

Over the years, APPS members and others have testified about the barriers to finding basic information on the District website, for content as well as for technical reasons. There is too often a lack of straightforward and honest presentations. The agenda for this action meeting is another such example. Omitted from the agenda posted online and distributed at the meeting, again, were the legislative update given by Board Member Fix Lopez, the Parent and Community Advisory presentation given by Board Member Thompson, and the Student Representative presentation given by Rebecca Allen. None of these were about issues that had just arisen. The agenda also failed to include dollar amounts for Item 8, Item 9 and Item 28. This may lead observers to think these are no-cost items. In fact, Action Item 8 totalled $15 million and Item 9 totaled $16.9 million. Item 28, a 5-year renewal for Mastery Shoemaker, will cost the District a minimum of $50 million. The Board has a duty to inform the public of how they are spending public funds.

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Mayor’s Nominating Panel Shuts Out Public Again

by Lynda Rubin

Only people “in the know” knew about this meeting of Mayor Kenney’s Education Nominating Panel. The City’s Education Office put out no notice via email or social media. The Mayor didn’t mention the upcoming Panel convening when he appeared with the Board’s superintendent nominee last week, nor did Board President Joyce Wilkerson. APPS members are in the know because we attend all Board action and committee meetings. Because our members read the small-print legal notices in the newspaper every day, we knew that the Panel was to hold its opening meeting to select “one or more” persons, in the words of City Education Director Otis Hackney, to serve on the Board of Education. The Panel will meet in private for all meetings except the first and last. The people of Philadelphia will have nothing to say about who will represent them on the Board. In fact, neither the mayor or Wilkerson has disclosed how many vacancies the Panel will be filling. 

The Panel solicits candidates for the Board of Education, considers applicants, and provides recommendations to the mayor. The mayor selects from the recommendations.  City Council must then confirm the nominees. 

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