Testimony of Deborah Grill to the BOE, 2/25/21

You must deny these charter applications.

The 5 submitted were so appallingly lacking in almost every aspect of planning that it is incredulous that these applicants could actually provide a quality education. This poor planning and inattention to detail show a profound disrespect for the students they propose to educate.

According to the figures in the budget submitted by the applicants, the 5 school would cost the district $318.9 million dollars in tuition and stranded costs over 5 years.

You cannot afford to approve any more charter schools.

Yesterday, I listened to the public testimony at City Council’s hearing on PILOTS. I heard District teachers and students describe what is was like to teach and learn in understaffed schools starved of resources, schools that have yet to recover from the Corbett administration’s cuts to the education budget, the rising costs of the pandemic and of the existing charter schools. Approving any of these charters would do harm not only to the students who might attend them, but to those students in District schools.

Your first responsibility is to ensure that the students in District schools get the staffing and resources that they need to achieve the Goals you have set for them. You can start by putting your scarce funds into making your existing schools safer with capital improvements and adequate staffing; providing students and teachers with the resources they need to learn; restoring school libraries; lowering class size to reach the students who struggle in the classroom.

Phila. already has 86 charters, few of which evidence better results than District schools. The few that do, do not have the same student demographics as the District’s schools. It is time to work on reinforcing the foundations of your own houses instead of letting sub-par contractors build new ones in your neighborhood. Deny these applications.