Defenders of Public Education Speak Before the Board of Education, October 18, 2018

SB 7-9-18

Click on the individual’s name to read the transcript of his or her testimony.  You can watch their testimony at the video of the October Board of Education meeting here.

 

 

Home and School Association

Katrina Clark

Shakeda Gaines

 

APPS and Community Members

Catherine Blunt

Eileen Duffey

Jesse Gottschalk

Karel Kilimnik

Ilene Poses

 

Ears on the Board of Education: October 18, 2018

SB 7-9-18

by Lynda Rubin

Eight of the nine Board members and the two student Board representatives were present. Leticia Egea-Hinton was absent. The meeting began with a beautiful performance by the Central High School String Quartet, with string specialist Matt Roberts, under the direction of Ben Blazer.

General Counsel Lynn Rauch announced that the Board met in executive session on October16 and October18 to discuss the following: “personnel and employment matters, purchase or lease of real property, investigations, quasi-judicial proceedings, privileged and confidential matters and information and strategy about litigations”.  She then cited the legal matters by name and docket number.

Superintendent’s Report Addresses Community Concerns

Superintendent William Hite’s report indirectly addressed concerns about barriers to parental involvement raised prior to the meeting by email and phone call and reflected in the number of speakers on the issue. He encouraged parents to join SACs but did not directly address parents’ specific concerns until later in the meeting. There is some contradictory and confusing language on the District website that implies that parents and community members have to provide clearance information in order to attend meetings at their schools.

Dr. Hite also addressed the District’s solution to the lack of full-time nurses and substitute nurses. He stated that three of the four vacancies had been filled and that the District was now using Kelly Services, the same company the District contracted with two years ago when it outsourced substitute teacher services. Dr. Hite said that his administration intended to hire additional companies to find substitute nurses. In fact, Action Item 16, later passed by the Board, contracts with Bayada Services to fill per diem and long-term nursing substitutes. In response to strong lobbying by nurses and parents, the District will now give access to the medical information of the students they are serving on any day, whether permanently appointed to one school or not.

Click here to read the rest of the report

Board of Education Policy Committee Meeting: October 11, 2018

By Karel Kilimnik

Policy Committee Meeting Convenes for First Time

Policy  Committee Chair Wayne Walker called the meeting to order. Also present were Committee members Julia Danzy, Lee Huang, and Chris McGinley. Board members (but not Policy Committee members) Mallory Fix Lopez, Angela Mc Iver, and Leticia Egea-Hinton sat with members of the public attending this first  BOE Policy Committee Meeting. District staff in attendance included Chief of Staff Naomi Wyatt, serving as liaison to Superintendent Hite; Chief of Schools Shawn Bird; Chief Financial Officer Uri Monson; General Counsel Lynn Rauch; and Chief of Student Support Services Karyn Lynch.

The ten policies under consideration at this meeting were:

  • 111: Lesson Plans
  • 126 Class Size
  • 230 Public Performance by Students
  • 232 Student Voice
  • 331 Expense Reimbursement
  • 620 Fund Balance
  • 703 School Cleanliness and Classroom Management
  • 719 Art Collections
  • 813 Other Insurance
  • 828 Suspected Financial Misconduct and Dishonesty

To read the rest of the report click here.

Ears on the Board of Education: September 20, 2019

SB 7-9-18

by Diane Payne

Present

All nine members of the Board of Education (BOE) were present.  Eight members of APPS attended; five testified on behalf of public education.  Mayor Kenney came to welcome the students who were chosen as non-voting BOE representatives.  Of 54 applicants, two students were selected by a Board committee to serve as non-voting student representatives.  Julia Frank of Northeast High School and Alfredo Pratico of J.R. of Masterman High School were sworn in and seated.  They will alternate attendance at future meetings and will bring student voice to issues before the Board.

City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown spoke to welcome the Board and to advise them that City Council was there to support and monitor district operations.  She noted three main areas of concern: school health and safety, suspensions, and African-American studies in the district’s high school curriculum. Also in attendance for part of the meeting was Councilwoman Helen Gym.   Gym has been outspoken against the Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ) and was the only No vote on the issue earlier that day in Council. The Board’s agenda included a vote on the current list of KOZ properties (more on this below).

The meeting began with a  lovely musical performance by Universal Language, a group of Franklin Learning Center students.  It was inspiring to hear the beautiful voice and stellar musical accompaniment of these student musicians.

Superintendent’s Remarks

Superintendent William Hite addressed the District’s upcoming open enrollment process.  The timeline has been moved, but the total number of days to complete the application process is the same.  Applications can be submitted from September 21st through November 2nd. There was a question about counselors having a difficult time due to the new timeline conflicting with Early Admission College Applications (EACA).  Dr. Hite said that only 5 high schools were possibly affected but research indicated really only one school would be affected. They were assured by that school there was no problem with conflicts impacting the EACAs.

Board Reverts to Business as Usual                                                    

The official BOE agenda included an extensive visual presentation on the Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ) properties from First Deputy Director Sylvie Gallier Howard and Senior Deputy Director Duane Bumb of the City’s Commerce Department.  (The power-point can be viewed here.)  The PA General Assembly created KOZs in 1998 as a program designed to spark development in blighted, vacant, or underutilized properties that might not otherwise be developed. This program abates a long list of both state and city taxes as the lure for investment and the projected economic improvement, particularly job creation. The hook for the School District is that by law these properties must make Payments In Lieu of Taxes (PILOTS) that amount to 110% of the 55% that would come to the District in real estate taxes.  These PILOTS are paid annually and are based on the previous year’s property assessment. By law, both City Council and the BOE must approve the list of properties submitted by the Commerce Department before the applications can proceed to the state.  (These properties can be viewed on the above mentioned powerpoint.)

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