Ears on the SRC: April 19, 2018

SRC #3

by Diane Payne
April 24, 2018


This was the first meeting of the hodgepodge SRC Commission.  The SRC is limping to extinction with a new chairwoman; Estelle Richman was appointed chair by Governor Wolf. Due to the resignation of Joyce Wilkerson and Chris McGinley, Mayor Kenney has appointed two commissioners, Fran Burns (who resigned as SDP Chief Operating Officer in June of 2017) and Marge Neff (who resigned as SRC Commissioner in October of 2016).  McGinley and Wilkerson have been selected by Kenney to join the new School Board beginning in July.  The SRC is working with only four commissioners because Governor Tom Wolf declined to appoint a new commissioner to replace Farah Jimenez when she abruptly resigned this past February. The SRC is poised to vote on countless resolutions, spending millions of dollars with a hodgepodge of four commissioners as opposed to the required five.  Taxpayers beware….98 resolutions will be dipping into the public’s pocket at the upcoming April 26th SRC meeting. To read APPS analysis of these resolutions please read Eyes on the SRC: April 26.

All four of the SRC Commissioners were present.  Six members of APPS testified on behalf of public education. Fourteen of the fifteen speakers argued against SRC policies that attack public education.

Strawberry Mansion  

Dr. Hite has not publicly identified any schools for closure this year.  But, don’t let that fool you into thinking no public schools are closing!  Instead, the district employs the “double speak” tactic. Strawberry Mansion High School (S.M.H.S.) is being “phased out.” There will be no 9th grade class at Strawberry Mansion in 2018 and the neighborhood’s high school will eventually disappear. There has been no community input for this. School District spokesman Lee Whack said, “…anytime a school and community go through change, things can be difficult.” Yes Mr. Whack!!  It is difficult when you’re conned, disrespected, and disenfranchised.

Nine of the 15 speakers at the SRC meeting addressed the “con” being perpetrated at S.M.H.S.  Members of the community eloquently slammed the SDP for failing to invest in S.M.H.S. and stripping them of resources, making the area a public school desert dotted with charter schools, then decrying the reduction of student population from a high of 1,600 students to just 292 students today. As Ken Derstine said in his testimony, “All of this chaos is to drive students from Strawberry Mansion in order to bring in outside contractors to provide these programs and transform Strawberry Mansion from a public school responsible to the community into a school contracted to corporate profit making interests for whom education is secondary.”

This district continues its quest to take neighborhood institutions that are anchors in their communities and toss them aside like so much refuse. The community is fighting back.  APPS supports the community’s efforts and will continue to post information on this ongoing fight.  If the district succeeds, Strawberry Mansion will be one more school buried in the graveyard of dead schools.

Budget Presentation

There were no resolutions at this meeting.  It was a meeting for the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Uri Munson and Dr. Hite to continue budget presentations.  The district will put the power point presentations for this SRC meeting on their website but this power point was not available as of the writing of this edition of Ears.

Because of some adjustments in figures that the city has provided to Munson, there was a slight change in the budget picture. However, the 5-year positive fund balance and the debt service below 10% are still intact.  Munson did say that due to declining state revenues by FY20 the state/local percentages are expected to be 50/50.  In the past, the state has always provided more than 50% of the district’s revenue.

Next SRC Meeting

The next SRC meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 26th at 4:30 p.m.  There are 98 resolutions and a lot of money at stake on this agenda.  In addition, a denied charter application for Franklin Towne Charter Middle School has been re-submitted and is scheduled for a vote. It should not be forgotten that this charter school is overwhelmingly white, and has a CEO of 2 (yes that is two) schools who is making $260,000 per year.  This CEO has never been an educator. The school has been in the news for circular real estate dealings and a whistleblower lawsuit. Read APPS analysis of the FTCS applicaton.

This lame duck, short staffed, hodgepodge SRC is making decisions that will affect the SDP for years to come.

To speak before the SRC call the Office of Family and Community Engagement at 215-400-4180 by 4:30 on the day preceding the meeting.


Ears on the SRC – March 22, 2018

Click the picture to view the video.

Supporters of public education speak before the March 22nd SRC

APPS member Ilene Poses at 0:00
(Click here to read the transcript of Ilene’s testimony)
APPS member Diane Payne at 3:16
(Click here to read the transcript of Diane’s testimony)
APPS member Lisa Haver at 6:15
SRC vote on Resolutions at 8:02

Ears on the SRC: March 22, 2018

by Diane Payne
April 2, 2018


Three of the remaining four commissioners were present for this special budget meeting of the SRC: Chair Wilkerson and Commissioners Richman and McGinley.  Farah Jimenez departed the position abruptly and without explanation in January leaving four commissioners; Governor Wolf said he will not appoint a replacement.  Commissioner Bill Green has assumed a laissez-faire attendance record since April 2017.  It is not uncommon for Green to be absent, come in late in time to vote on resolutions (often totaling millions of dollars), miss staff presentations and public speakers, or leave early and call in to vote.  This is now the seventh time he has been absent since April 2017.  In the waning months of this lame duck SRC, Green continues to exhibit a pattern of behavior that would not be acceptable in the students whose welfare he has been charged to oversee.

 Six members of APPS were present for this meeting; three spoke in defense of public education.  To see their testimony see the video at top of this page.

 Budget: Resolution SRC-1

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Ears on the SRC: March 15, 2018

SRC 3 3-15-18

by Diane Payne
March 21, 2018


This was a regularly scheduled action meeting, and all four of the remaining commissioners were present. Commissioner Farah Jimenez resigned unexpectedly after last month’s meeting. In her resignation letter to Governor Wolf, which gave no reason for her resignation, Jimenez said that “..it has been a gift to be in service to the students of Philadelphia.”

Ms. Jimenez secured the position of President and CEO of the Philadelphia Education Fund (PEF) in 2016. Prior to Jimenez’s appointment, PEF meetings were open to the public. However, slightly more than a year after assuming this role, Ms. Jimenez barred three regular attenders of PEF Compact meetings, including a public school parent, even though they had tickets (which were not required prior to Jimenez’s appointment). Admittance to these meeting are now guaranteed only to regular financial contributors of PEF, even though their purpose is to discuss public education; others can take their chances on a waiting list. APPS has questioned, as have members of City Council, the potential conflict of interest in serving as an SRC Commissioner while leading PEF.

Jimenez has been a consistent and vocal supporter of charter schools. No matter the drain of resources it caused to existing public schools, no matter the harm to remaining public school students, and no matter the lack of demonstrable success of charter schools. Charter expansion at any cost is a big part of the legacy of Commissioner Jimenez.

Ten members of APPS were present for this meeting; four members and others testified on behalf of public education.

A Matter of Integrity

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Ears on the SRC: February 22, 2018


by Diane Payne
March 1, 2018

All five commissioners were present for this special meeting of the SRC, held for the purpose of voting on the seven remaining applications for new charter schools: SRC-1 Antonia Pantoja Preparatory Charter School, SRC-2 APM Community Charter School, SRC-3 Eugenio Maria de Hostos Preparatory Charter School, SRC-4 Franklin Towne Charter Middle School, SRC-5 MaST Community Charter School III, SRC-6 Mastery Charter Elementary School, and SRC-7 Philadelphia Hebrew Public Charter School. Five members of APPS testified against the approval of any new charter school. Four other community members and teachers spoke against approval of any of the applications.   (You can see all of these testimonies at APPSPhilly.net )

SRC Votes to Change Policy (After Enactment)

Without any explanation, the SRC limited the number of public speakers for this meeting to fourteen. Seven additional slots were reserved for the charter applicants, who spoke first. In Policy 903, Public Participation at Committee Meetings, no language appears limiting the number of public speakers. This is not the first time the SRC has changed the policy for just one meeting. Last year, they violated their own policy by limiting speakers without voting on the change. This year, they changed the policy before voting on it.

In addition, the SRC changed the order of the agenda and moved the staff presentation on these applications after the public speakers. In all other SRC meetings, the staff presentations come before the public speakers giving speakers some important information prior to their turn at the mic. Again, no explanation.

APPS Again Calls on SRC to Stop Hiding Behind “Quasi-Judicial”

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