Board’s Lack of Transparency and Engagement

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

by Diane Payne

I am speaking on Action Item 3 and on transparency and engagement.

It is astonishing that $700 million dollars is listed for A.I. 3, yet the administration provides the Board with a generic list of programming and grantees with absolutely no breakdown of who is paying for what!  This is the antithesis of transparency.  I am publicly requesting a concise and transparent breakdown of who is providing the grant money, how much, and to what program.   This information should be included in the official document of this A.I. We are now at the point where Philadelphians are expected to blindly accept the money thrown at us…. why?  Because that’s all we deserve?

This leads me to my next point which is the FPP, transparency, and community engagement.  Holding meetings open to the public, collecting their questions and comments with some vague promise of it impacting final decisions is not public engagement.  If you want honest engagement, seek input on how to achieve it from the many stakeholders already engaged in facilities issues including: the PFT director of environmental services, Philly Healthy Schools Initiative, Parents United, Philadelphia Home and School Council, OCOS, and Penn Professor Akira Drake to name some.  These engaged and knowledgeable stakeholders have been on the front line of facilities issues; stop ignoring them.   Every community design set up paid consultants is a design that only simulates engagement.  

My second ask is that Parsons Environmental make public and accessible the information and data it is collecting and using in its report.  We have paid for Parsons.  I am not the only one asking for this information. This information belongs to all of us. 

I have asked 2 questions today.  I wish to know if and or how I will receive answers.

Keep the mask mandate in place.  It is an easy intervention to slow the spread of COVID.