Honorable James Kenney, Mayor
City of Philadelphia
Philadelphia PA 19107
Honorable Thomas Wolf, Governor
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
225 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120
June 8, 2016
Dear Mayor Kenney and Governor Wolf:
On behalf of the members of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools, we request that you conduct an investigation into the actions of the School Reform Commission during its current renewal procedure of the charters for Aspira Stetson School and Aspira Olney School. We have attended all of the SRC meetings in April and May when these resolutions were considered, and we have serious concerns that the public has been denied the right to a fair and impartial process in these matters.
Aspira Inc. was granted a charter to manage John B. Stetson Middle in April 2010 and one to manage Olney High School in April 2011, after the district deemed each “low-performing” and placed them in its Renaissance program. The purpose of that program, according to the district’s website, is to “dramatically improve the learning environment in underperforming school district schools and to create highly effective schools that provide exceptional opportunities for student achievement and preparedness for success in college and the workforce.” The SRC’s Charter Schools Office (CSO) has cited several reasons—academic, financial, and managerial—which confirm that Aspira has failed to provide its students with a high-quality education and has failed to meet basic standards for proper school management. In addition, Aspira representatives admitted to financial irregularities enumerated in the CSO report.
Reasons cited by the CSO for non-renewal of Stetson include:
Click here to read the entire letter.
By Karel Kilimnik
May 16, 2016
Welcome to the 9th edition of Eyes on the SRC. We continue to shine a light on the SRC resolutions more than ever as both charter school renewals and the Renaissance Charter Program expands. This is a relentless attack on district-run schools that are starved of the necessary resources. The District continues to outsource jobs and services and the SRC approves these transactions.
Last month the SRC voted to table resolutions to renew four charter schools. They do appear again this month. Despite Commissioner Green’s assertion that the District Charter School Office staff are experts, he moved to challenge their recommendations of non-renewal for Aspira’s Olney and Stetson and for Universal’s Audenreid and Vare. Green’s motion to table was based on his claim that the City Comptroller’s office was about to issue its own report on the city’s charter schools. The SRC voted to pass the motion even though the procedure for renewals of Renaissance schools does not, and never has, included any provision for considering any information from any body, internal or external, other than the SRC’s Charter Office. Will the SRC come up with some other excuse to prolong the non-renewal of these four schools at the next Action meeting?
This month’s first Action Meeting is Thursday, May 19th at 5:30 p.m.
Please note that there is a second Action meeting this month: Thursday, May 26 @ 4:30 PM
To register to speak at either meeting, call 215-400-4180 before 4:30 the day before the meeting.
Welcome to the 9th edition of Eyes on the SRC
By Karel Kilimnik
Please note that the April 28th Action meeting starts at 4 PM instead of the usual 5:30 due to the large number of speakers the SRC expects to register.
Also: There are two SRC Action meetings scheduled next month – Thursday May 19th at 5:30 and Thursday May 26th at 4:30. To register to speak call 215 400 4180 before 4:30 the day before each meeting.
We need our Eyes on the SRC more than ever as it continues to change speaker policies and to add resolutions at the last minute.
The April 28th Action meeting includes the issue of the possible renewal of eleven charters, including two run by Aspira. You may remember Daniel Denvir’s 2013 City Paper article in which he reported that Aspira Inc. of Pennsylvania owed large sums of money to four of its Philadelphia charter schools, according to an independent audit of the organization’s finances as of June 30, 2012.
The Charter Office, under the supervision of the SRC, has recommended Universal Audienried and Universal Vare as well as Aspira’s Olney and Stetson schools for non-renewal. We expect a large contingent of both Aspira and Universal supporters to attend the meeting.
You might also wonder at the scheduling of votes for a record number of charter renewals at the same meeting the SRC will vote on the Resolutions placing three more schools into the Renaissance Charter program, especially as controversy continues to swirl around these decisions.
Click here to read selected SRC resolutions and APPS comments about each.