Beth Young transcript of testimony before School Board on July 9, 2018

Click on timestamp 59:07 to view Beth’s testimony.

On Thursday, May 24th, the SRC voted to approve the re-location of Ad Prima Charter School Frankford Campus to the neighborhood of Mt. Airy. As news of the decision spread, a community meeting was organized at which many issues and concerns were raised. Several main issues have risen to the forefront that do not just apply to our situation today, but are indicative of a much larger problem of the dissociation of schools, their stakeholders, and the communities in which they reside.

Lack of Community Engagement and a Transparent and Inclusive Process

Over the course of a year, Ad Prima applied twice for re-location, was reviewed, and finally brought to vote with the SRC without any public notification or call for testimony outside of families of currently enrolled students. Even after the approval, conflicting information has been shared by Ad Prima representatives with the community, further complicating opportunities to engage. As we have experienced previously with schools in our neighborhood, decisions to open, close, or relocate are largely made without regard for the communities around them that will benefit or suffer from the changes. We are continually left on the defensive, fighting back against decisions made by people who do not live, work, or learn with us and whose daily lives are not impacted by the changes they make. We are not the only neighborhood facing the repercussions of decisions in which there was no community involvement, which points to a systemic failure of transparency and inclusion at best, and at worse, an implicit approach to management of the District that excludes the people who are most needed to support our schools.

Embattled Neighborhood Schools

The new location of Ad Prima’s campus sits directly across the street from F.S. Edmonds Elementary School. Edmonds is a Community School through the Mayor’s Office of Education and also sits within a one-mile radius of McCloskey and Pennypacker Elementary Schools. With the closing of Leeds Middle School in 2016, each of these neighborhood schools has grown to serve children in grades K-8. Ad Prima serves the same grades, and with current enrollment just under 300 students there is room at the new location to grow by nearly 200 students. This is positive for Ad Prima, but how will this impact the established neighborhood schools and surrounding community? How will this affect the climate, culture, and safety of students and residents in the area? How will this impact enrollment in the neighborhood schools that are already shamefully under-resourced and now face large ‘Now Enrolling’ signs directly across the street? You are creating a competitive environment around the education of our children when we should be working together to increase support for our embattled neighborhood schools, especially a Community School whose purpose is to strengthen the entire community.

We join our neighbors living similar experiences in other communities in opposing the current standards that blatantly ignore community engagement, a transparent and inclusive process, and assessment of impact on established neighborhood schools and their surrounding community.

We ask that the new Board of Education:

  1. Stop the relocation of Ad Prima Charter School to Mt. Airy until a review and new vote is held regarding this request.
  2. And commit to a new transparent and inclusive approach to the management of our schools through the review and revision of the entire process for school relocations, openings, and closures.Beth Young
    Vice Chair, Education & Youth Activities Committee
    Mt Airy Community Council 

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