Bartram High School is a 9-12 school at 2401 S. 67th St. in Neighborhood Network 1, headed by District Superintendent Deb Carrera. The principal, Mr. Damond Warren, is in his first year at Bartram. Enrollment in 2015-16 was 710, down from 1067 in 2013-14. The ethnicity of the student body in 2015-16 was 93% African American with the remaining 7% mostly divided among Asian, Latino and European. 26.3% have IEPs, 1% gifted, and 6.8% are ELL students. 100% are listed as CEP Economically Disadvantaged.
The initial meeting was held October 19, 2016 at 5:00 pm. Lisa Haver and I attended. Several members of SDP administration were in attendance, some of whom seemed to be making sure the principal stuck to the official presentation, both in the formal meeting and in individual conversations afterwards. The meeting was conducted by Principal Warren and District Superintendent Carrera. Trevor Yates represented Cambridge. The meeting was attended by 8-10 school staff, a few parents and members of partner organizations, some of whom were former Bartram students.
The Power-Point and scripted comments were almost identical to a meeting I had attended at Hartranft Elementary, starting with the map of the city with color-coded schools signifying their achievement status. “No matter what zip code you live in, you deserve a good school” was a statement I heard at several meetings. The Dist. Supt. stressed that: 1) No schools in this process will be placed into the Renaissance program (i. e., charterized); 2) No schools in this process will close this year; 3) No recommendations have been made about the future of the school; 4) We want your “high impact ideas”. She stated that 11 Priority schools were chosen according to their SPR scores. The data presented represented snapshots from years 2012-13 through 2014-15, but were not explained in any detail.
Focus group meetings were scheduled for November 3rd and 4th. The schedule for the review process was listed as follows:
Oct-Nov – School Quality Review and Family Feedback
Nov-Dec – District reviews the feedback data to inform interventions
January 2017 – Superintendent Hite makes decisions and recommendations
I believe the District Superintendent said the information gathered at the SQR would be given to Dr. Hite and to the school. (This was different than what I’d heard at Hartranft.) There was no mention then about the report being brought back to the school). Mr. Yates agreed that the school would be included: The school would re-engage with parents/community who will make recommendations to Hite; he alone will make the final decision.
The list of 5 options was read to the group:
- School entering District’s Turnaround Network
- Merging the school with an existing high-quality provider (one of the two schools would have to close)
- Engaging a contract partner
- Initiating evidence-based plan for academic improvement
- Restarting the school
Parents asked whether they would be actually involved in making recommendations and whether there would be a meeting where parents could help with that. Ms. Carrera replied that they would.
A teacher asked how could any parents and community unable to come to meetings be involved; for example, in an internet site that was crafted to be interactive (gaining data and access to other parents’ questions and recommendations). Ms. Carrera and Mr. Yates alluded to a generic website, but that only allows people to submit their contact information, not to gain access to information on this process.
One of the community partners (and Bartram grad) asked district staff and the Cambridge representative how many schools in these types of interventions might became charters. The Dist. Supt and Cambridge never really answered that question. Mr. Yates said that in their experience, change in designs only happened where the district or cities had already planned for these design changes.
Lisa Haver asked about how many of the 5 options required staff changes. With persistence she got the Asst. Supt to admit that at least three (1, 2, and 5) would involve staff shake-up.
I asked whether increasing support staff (to address their “climate” issues) was ever on the table. Not answered.
A former Bartram Science teacher asked what resources had been taken from the school in recent years. A vague response with no specific information was given.
The Principal stated that he now had 2 Climate Managers, 2 APs, and 2 openings for Climate Support workers. The principal also stated they were working with State Sen. Tony Williams, State Representative Jared Harris and City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson. The principal continually stated he was glad for any resources that would be given to the school.
The site visits are scheduled for November 3rd and 4th. Focus Groups for Bartram are listed for November 3rd and 9th. The times were not given then, but appeared on the on-line calendar. Later they were changed from 10:00 am to 5:00pm.
Submitted by Lynda Rubin
November 3, 2016