School District of Philadelphia Board of Education Action Meeting Testimony, May 26, 2022

by Ilene Poses

I have concerns about Action Item 65 which seeks authorization for the district to enter into a‬ ‪contract with Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) to provide online educational‬ services and supports for students enrolling in Philadelphia Virtual Academy (PVA), for a total amount of $51,400,000 for 2 years. This is another example of outsourcing by the district.  Why was Chester County intermediate unit chosen and what criteria supported their program over one designed by the SDP?  This is a huge amount of money allocated for only 1,925 students.  According to the PVA website 0% of the students are economically disadvantaged with only 5% EL students.  ‬Money could be better spent on the 5 positions requested by CASA plus school libraries.

On another topic, I have several problems with the district’s  facilities process planning.  I attended one online meeting on May 18th.   Only a handful of community members attended online, with most attendees being either district or corporate employees. The facilitators insisted, with no evidence, that the pandemic showed that people wanted virtual meetings.  Parents United suggests that meetings  be held in neighborhood schools at hours convenient for working parents throughout the summer to ensure more community involvement.  They state that  parents are most concerned with remediating environmental toxins in their neighborhood schools immediately and want to be assured that no neighborhood schools are closed. The May 18 meeting discussed the process but not any specifics.  The district is paying the California company Flo Analytics $2 million for information that it could have acquired free of charge from Philadelphia City Planning, where Flo Analytics got its data.

 More outsourcing when the savings could be spent to provide the 5 positions requested by CASA plus school libraries.

We don’t trust the process

Questions seldom answered; many students transferred

We don’t trust the process

Choices are imposed; District schools get closed!  (Billy Joel’s “We didn’t start the fire”)