by Karel Kilimnik
April 22, 2018
The continued adherence to outsourcing has been a mainstay of this administration. Many of these Resolutions either continue contracts or establish new ones instead of returning positions to the District. The Philadelphia School District has hosted Broad-affiliated superintendents since 2008 when then-Superintendent Arlene Ackerman served on the board of the Broad Foundation. Dr. Hite, is a 2005 graduate of the uncertified Broad Superintendents Academy. He avidly pursues many of the toxic notions promoted by both the Broad Foundation and Superintendent’s Academy. “They target urban school districts with the highest poverty by having graduates from their Broad Superintendents Academy appointed who are prepared to starve public schools in order to make charter schools appealing to parents. The hemorrhaging of students from public schools to charters has led to urban school districts closing public schools all over the country due to “under enrollment”. Part of their strategy is implementing a market place approach to education ensuring that vendors help themselves to lucrative contracts thereby also eroding union membership. In the last days of the SRC we witness a plethora of contracts waiting their approval for moving funds into the private sector and away from public accountability.
Out of 98 Resolutions on the April 26 Agenda six (A-6,A-7,A-8, A-31, IU-4,IU5) extend contracts focusing on Special Needs Students. Resolution A-26 forks over money to a company for bus maintenance. Altogether there is $24 million going into the pockets of vendors to provide services formerly done by district employees. The district has become a cash cow for vendors selling their products and services. We sincerely hope that the incoming Local Board does not pursue this outsourcing as ardently as their predecessors.
The SRC just posted Resolution SRC-4 to reconsider the Revised Charter Franklin Towne Charter Middle School Application. This Application was denied on February 22. Commissioner Green suggested they submit a Revised Application and they are the first of six rejected applicants to do so. Closely following in their steps are Philadelphia Hebrew Charter and APM Community Charter. We will alert you when the last two come up for another vote. Please consider attending this SRC meeting on April 26 to urge the Commissioners to deny any charters. The District cannot afford to spend money on charters that should be going into classroom needs in District schools. They are also considering the Nonrenewal of Eastern Academy Charter School (SRC-3).
Once again the issue of artwork (A-13) removed in 2004 from schools in the middle of the night surfaces as it’s time to renew the storage contract. Many of these valuable pieces were donated to specific schools where they survived for decades without any damage. Science Leadership Academy Middle School (SLAMS)(A-37) provides a strong education for its students but once again the District plans on renting space for this program instead of either locating it in a district building or getting Drexel to cover the rent. SLAMS received $1.8 million from PSP in its initial stages two years ago Why are some schools more equal than others?
The $24 million slated for vendors could restore Certified School Librarians into all district schools. Students could experience a professional librarian housed in their own school sharing resources, books and online materials, along with a hearty dose of lifelong learning.
The next SRC meeting is Thursday May 17 at 4:30. Call 215 400 4180 before 4:30 to register to speak.
Resolutions of Note
Fake Schools/Fake Teachers
Categorical/Grant Fund: $425,000 Contract with Temple University, Drexel University, Relay Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania, and New York University – Teacher Residency 2018-2019
RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to execute, deliver, and perform contracts separately with Temple University, Drexel University, University of Pennsylvania, New York University, and Relay Graduate School of Education, for tuition and fees for up to 50 Teacher Resident Interns and for payment to teacher mentors, for an aggregate amount not to exceed $425,000, for the period commencing April 27, 2018 through June 30, 2019.
Description:The School District of Philadelphia seeks to continue building a quality teacher pipeline through a comprehensive Teacher Residency Program, by expanding the education providers within whom the District works and expanding the number of Teacher Resident Interns (“Residents”) the District prepares in the 2018-19 school year from 20 residents to 50 residents.
During the 2017-18 school year, the District embarked on the first year of a multi-year effort to prepare a quality, diverse, committed pipeline of new teachers who will make a long-term impact with the District. Teacher residencies are teacher-preparation programs that offer a unique and powerful pathway for aspiring teachers to begin a long-term career in the classroom. The District partnered with Relay Graduate School of Education for the first year of the Teacher Residency Program to develop a cohort of 20 teacher residents into full-time, certified teachers of record through a specific educational program aimed at preparing new teachers during a residency year. As of March 2018, all 20 teacher residents are on track to graduate from their certification program and participate in the Site Selection process this spring to fill a teacher vacancy in 2018-19.
For the 2018-19 school year, the District seeks to contract with up to five education providers- Drexel University, Temple University, University of Pennsylvania, New York University, and Relay Graduate School of Education- to prepare a total of 50 teacher residents to become full-time teachers of record by the 2019-2020 school year. A standard part of working with the education providers to prepare teacher residents includes covering part of the cost of tuition for teacher residents. The District will cover up to $7,500 in tuition per teacher resident, using Title II funds. If a teacher resident leaves during their resident year, or is hired as a full time teacher and does not complete a commitment of at least three years of service as a teacher in the District, the tuition assistance is converted to a loan. We require that the teacher repay the district for the remaining years of their 3-year commitment, up to $7,500.
The District will also pay $50,000 to fund payment to teachers who take on the responsibility of being mentors for residents. A mentor works both with the resident and the education provider to support an effective on-ramp into teaching by: allowing residents to begin teaching lessons; eventually supporting the teaching full days of rostered students; observing the resident; and, providing feedback on a regular basis.
ABC Code/Funding Source $425,000.00 334X-G55-9400-283F-3291 Title II
APPS Analysis: It is encouraging that the district will now contract with universities that have real departments of education like Temple, Drexel, University of Pennsylvania, and NYU to support its Teacher Residency Program. However we are disturbed to see that Relay Graduate School of Education is still one of their contractors.
Relay is not affiliated with any legitimate college or university. It was founded by three charter school networksto train teachers in their charter schools. The founders had very little experience in teaching or education. Relay’s teacher preparation has been described by Ken Zeichner, the Boeing Professor of Teacher Education at the University of Washington and member of the National Academy of Education, as “a very narrow preparation to engage in a very controlling and insensitive form of teaching that is focused almost entirely on raising student test scores.” It is based on Doug Lemov’s Teach Like a Champion which focuses on practice to the exclusion of theory. According to Zeichner, “There is no credible research that supports the use of Lemov’s methods with students.”
The Pennsylvania Department of Education denied Relay’s application to offer its New York-approved Master of Arts in Teaching in Pennsylvania for a number of reasons. The first and foremost being “Relay failed to demonstrate a sufficient understanding of the requirements for approval to offer courses through an education enterprise that would lead to a MAT degree.” The DOE found that there was insufficient evidence of the teaching of research techniques and results, and there was no one on its faculty with a doctorate. The DOE also stated that the program engages in no research, has no library, and has no relationship to the advancement of knowledge in education.
The use of Relay to train new teachers is a disservice to both the students in the residency program and to the students in their classes.
Categorical/Grant Fund: $360,000 Contract Amendment with Teach for America – Alternative Route to Certification Program
RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes the The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to exercise an option allowed under the current contract to execute, deliver, and perform an amendment of Contract No. 0049/F17, originally entered into with Teach For America, pursuant to Resolution A-4, approved by the School Reform Commission on June 17, 2016 and amended pursuant to Resolution A-4, approved by the School Reform Commission on June 15, 2017, by increasing the dollar amount of the contract by an additional $360,000 from $211,500 to an amount not to exceed $571,500, and by extending the term of the contract from its original scheduled expiration date of June 30, 2018 through June 30, 2020, to hire and support up to 40 teachers per year.
Description:The District proposes to continue partnering with Teach For America to hire and support up to 40 first and second year teachers (corps members) for each of the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years. Teach For America is a nonprofit organization that recruits, hires, and develops educational leaders who serve for two years as classroom teachers in Philadelphia and 52 other locations nationally, and supports program alumni to meaningfully impact education in low income communities through the classroom, school leadership, and other fields that impact students growing up in low income communities. It is among the largest providers of teachers in low income communities, among the largest providers of African-American and Latino teachers, and among the largest providers of STEM teachers.
The Office of Talent works closely with Teach For America staff to identify new teachers (corps members) who have been accepted to their alternative route certification program in Philadelphia, coordinates site selection interviews to hire corps members into existing vacancies, and pays Teach For America a fee for the development and ongoing support of corps members.
ABC Code/Funding Source $360,000.00 334X-G55-9400-283F-3291 Title II
APPS Analysis: Teach for America teachers enter the classroom with only 5 weeks of training. They are totally unprepared to handle a classroom, yet the district has to pay TFA to place them–that’s in addition to the teaching salary they receive from the district. They are only required to stay in teaching for 2 years. Most leave after those 2 years. TFA claims that students taught by their teachers have better academic results. Michelle Rhee,whose undocumented claim to have raised her students proficiency rate to 90% over the course of her few years teaching, is their most famous graduate. However, as Thomas Utican writes in his blog “TFA has been remarkably successful everywhere except in the classroom. These temporary teachers with virtually no training nor experience are not ready to run a class. Because a large percentage of TFA teachers do not stay past two years, it is impossible to run long term studies of their effect on students. However, it is well known that TFA induced teacher churn harms children. Today, a significant number of charter school teachers come from TFA.” Instead of hiring TFA teachers, the district should invest in improving teaching conditions in its schools so that more qualified individuals will want to teach and stay in the district.
SRC-3(Added 4.19.18 – Pending)
Proposed Charter Action: Eastern University Academy Charter School; Nonrenewal of Charter Consideration of the Proposed Charter Application (SRC-3) by the School Reform Commission would be considered a quasi-judicial action.
SRC-4(Added 4.19.18 – Pending)
Proposed Charter Action on Revised Charter Application – Franklin Towne Charter Middle School
Consideration of the Proposed Revised Charter Application (SRC-4) by the School Reform Commission would be considered a quasi-judicial action. Please refer to the Charter Application and Evaluation Report available on the Charter Schools Office website here.
APPS Analysis: CFO Uri Monson has repeatedly stated that the largest budget item is charter schools. There is a looming deficit on the horizon so why would the SRC consider approving any more charter applications? Franklin Towne Charter School has a board filled with politically connected individuals. In 2010 then City Controller Alan Butkovitz cited them for circular real estate dealings. CEO Venditti is responsible for two schools and draws an annual salary of $260,000 paid for by our tax dollars. Their K-8 elementary school is 83% white while their high school is 75%. Their revised application does little to remedy these issues.
They already have a K to 8 elementary school so their application for a Middle School seems suspicious as their elementary school includes the Middle Years
No Cost Contract Amendment with Foundations, Inc. – Temporary Executive Support RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to execute, deliver and perform an amendment of Contract 337/F16, originally entered into with Foundations, Inc., pursuant to Resolution A-6, approved by the School Reform Commission on August 18, 2016, and amended pursuant to Resolution A-7, approved by the School Reform Commission on June 15, 2017, by extending the term of the contract from its scheduled expiration date of June 30, 2018, through June 30, 2019 at no additional cost to the District.
Description:The School District of Philadelphia (“the District”) seeks to continue retaining Foundations, Inc., an educational services firm, for the purpose of providing temporary executive staff to support the central office and/or schools on an as-needed basis.
In working with an educational services firm, the goal is to have access to highly qualified, experienced and skilled personnel that can quickly provide interim support, executive coaching and related assistance to the District on an interim, as-needed basis. The cost of these services will be based on the per-diem rate for four positions, i.e. Chief, Deputy Chief, Assistant Superintendent and Executive Coach, plus additional per diem costs for benefits and administration. The District will only incur costs for services rendered and in the case of interim executive placements due to vacancy, the funding allocated to the permanent position will fund the costs of an interim placement.
ABC Code/Funding Source N/A
APPS Analysis: For the past two years the District has been giving contracts to Foundations Inc to supply “temporary executive staff”. Where are their results? They were searching for people to fill the same positions back in 2016 (Resolution A-6). Why can’t the District attract and retain executive personnel? Whatever happened to promoting from within? In-house promotions provide a person with actual experience working in the District. This administration seems intent on importing inexperienced people from across the country who stay for a bit and fly away to greener pastures. We need stability in all levels of this District.
Operating Budget: $5,300,000 Contracts With ACS Consultants, Inc., EBS, and Progressus Therapy, LLC (Invo Healthcare Associates, LC) – Special Education Teachers and One to One Aides
RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to execute, deliver and perform contracts separately with ACS Consultants, Inc., (Allied Health Staffing Services), EBS (Educational Based Services), and Progressus Therapy, LLC (Invo HealthCare Associates, LC), to provide substitute special education teachers, special education intervention instructors, one to one aides, and classroom assistants, to fill special education teacher and assistant vacancies that cannot otherwise be filled through the normal staffing process, and to provide substitute coverage when needed, for an aggregate amount not to exceed $5,300,000, for the period commencing July 1, 2018 through, June 30, 2019.
Description:The District currently employs over 1,360 certified special education teachers and nearly 1,800 special education assistants who teach and support the approximately 18,319 District students with disabilities. The District’s Office of Talent engages in an exhaustive and comprehensive recruitment effort to locate, hire and place special education teachers and special education assistants to fill vacancies and new positions for the upcoming school year. Last year, the District hired 163 special education teachers and 352 special education assistants, and anticipates hiring the same amount for the upcoming school year.
Even with a thorough, expansive recruitment and marketing effort aimed at drawing certified teachers and qualified assistants to the District, the District estimates that there may be up to approximately sixty (60) special education teacher vacancies and up to ten (10) special education assistant vacancies at the start of the 2018-19 school year. Pennsylvania certified special education teachers from ACS Consultants Inc., EBS, and/or Progressus Therapy, LLC may be needed to cover the instruction of low incident students, students with autism, classrooms of students who require emotional and behavioral support, and other special education classrooms. Low incident children are among the most vulnerable students in the District and have some of the most challenging needs. Low incident students include students with the following disabilities: autism, intellectual disability, emotional disability, multiple disabilities, and those students needing basic life skills training and support. Recruiting certified and experienced teachers to work with this demanding population in a large urban district is challenging due to a low supply of qualified candidates, and high annual teacher turnover and resignation rates.
The use of contracted substitutes though this program shall only be used by the Office of Talent and Office of Specialized Services (OSS) as a last resort. The recruitment and retention of regular special education teachers and assistants through the District’s Office of Talent is always the first priority and choice. However, when this option is exhausted, and when the District’s rigorous recruitment efforts fall short of need, the proposed contracts shall help ensure that all students with special needs have teacher and assistant coverage from the beginning to the end of the school year. This resolution seeks authorization to contract with ACS Consultants, Inc., (Allied Health Staffing Services), EBS (Educational Based Services), and Progressus Therapy, LLC to provide qualified and Pennsylvania certified substitute special education teachers and one to one aides/classroom assistants, to fill vacancies and provide coverage when needed throughout the 2018-2019 school year.
ABC Code/Funding Source $5,300,000.00 1901-005-9580-1271-3291 Operating Budget
Operating Budget: $6,327,363 Contracts with EBS Healthcare, Invo-Progressus Healthcare, Mediscan, and SHC Services – Therapy Services
RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to execute, deliver and perform contracts separately with EBS Healthcare, Inc. (Educational Based Services), Progressus Therapy LLC (Invo HealthCare Associates, LC), Supplemental HealthCare Associates LLC, Mediscan Diagnostic Services, Inc. and SHC Services, Inc. (Supplemental Health Care) to deliver substitute related services including speech, hearing, vision, occupational, physical and orientation and mobility therapy, ABA therapists, Assistive Technology therapists, and other support services, for an aggregate amount not to exceed $6,327,363 for the period commencing July 1, 2018 through, June 30, 2019.
Description:The Office of Specialized Services and the Office of Talent are proposing to contract with the following vendors selected through RFP 422, issued on June 20, 2014: EBS Healthcare, Inc. (Educational Based Services), Mediscan Diagnostic Services, Inc., Invo-Progressus Healthcare, and SHC Services, Inc (Supplemental Health Care). The vendors shall provide certified and licensed speech, hearing, vision, occupational and physical therapists (OT/PT) to perform substitute student therapy sessions, student therapeutic evaluations, staff consultations, and to attend Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings for approximately 11,982 students. The vendors shall also collaborate with the District in providing management oversight for staff. Vendors’ services are needed to provide students with related services mandated by federal and state law. These vendors shall provide services on an as- needed basis at the discretion of the Office of Specialized Services, and to cover District therapeutic staff vacancies whenever they occur due to sabbaticals, maternity leaves, sick leaves, retirements, resignations, and terminations.
The District’s Office of Talent engages in an exhaustive and comprehensive recruitment effort to locate, hire and place certified and licensed speech, hearing, vision, occupational and physical therapists (OT/PT) to fill vacancies and new positions for the upcoming school year. Even with a thorough, expansive recruitment and marketing effort aimed at drawing certified therapists to the District, the District estimates that there may be up to approximately 66 full-time therapeutic staff vacancies at the beginning of the school year in September 2018. Substitute therapists are needed to cover these vacant staff positions so that students can receive the therapeutic services included in their IEPs, and that the District is required by law to provide. The cost of 66 contracted therapists is calculated as follows: 183 (total number of full school days plus two professional development days) x 7.5 (hours per day) = 1,372.50 hours per school year x $69.85 (cost per hour) x 66 contracted therapists for a total of $6,327,362.
Students identified through the Response to Instruction and Intervention (RtII) process and through the special education evaluation process as having speech, hearing, occupational and physical delays that affect their academic performance, are referred to a qualified, certified and licensed therapist. After a review of a child’s academic performance and an assessment by the therapist, the student’s therapeutic needs are determined, summarized, and reported to the parent and school staff. The therapist and the school team then develop an IEP with a therapeutic regimen. After the IEP is developed, the District must provide the recommended therapy.
A District panel selected the vendors from the competitive process through RFP 422 issued by the District’s Office of Procurement on June 20, 2014. Ten (10) vendors submitted proposals in response to RFP 422. The District panel chose the selected vendors based on the following criteria: proven track record of providing and managing a large scale substitute therapy services for school districts with similar demographics, administrative plan to manage substitutes and to ensure staff compliance with record keeping, electronic reporting and District protocol, guaranteed pool of available qualified substitutes ready to fill existing vacancies, the experience and qualifications of substitute staff, and the reasonableness of costs. RFP 422 authorized up to a five (5) year contract term. A new RFP is scheduled to be issued in January 2019.
ABC Code/Funding Source $6,327,363.00 1901-005-9580-1225-3291 Operating Budget
APPS Analysis: These two resolutions arrive like ghosts from the past. In June 2017 these same contracts for the same amount were approved. The Office of Talent does not seem able to find and hire special education teachers and one-to-one aides, nor do they appear adept at discovering and hiring certified and licensed speech, hearing, vision, occupational and physical therapists. Other districts appear to hire and retain these workers. In 2013 counselors, secretaries, and other essential school staff were laid off creating unbearable conditions in our schools. When the SRC terminated the PFT contract in 2014 school staff went without a contract for five years causing many to leave the District due to economic hardship. This blatant disregard for teachers and other school staff creates turmoil and unstable working conditions. When you add schools being forced into the Turnaround Network and forcing teachers to reapply for their positions you continue this practice of disrespecting the professionals who work with students on a daily basis. This leads to difficult working conditions that contribute to the difficulties of finding, hiring, and retaining staff. The SRC is approving $11 million a year to outside vendors to provide substitute and temporary therapists and teachers to work with our most vulnerable students in need of stable relationships. We can think of other ways to spend that money once working conditions are stabilized. We have researched these companies in previous Eyes
Operating Budget: $6,750,000 Contracts with Community Council Educational Services – Emotional Support Classrooms
RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to execute, deliver, and perform a contract with Community Council Education Services (Community Council Health Systems) to provide up to 45 emotional support classrooms for students with emotional disabilities, as well as services to support students with emotional disturbance and enhanced behavioral needs in other School District settings, for an amount not to exceed $6,750,000, for the period commencing July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019.
Description:The Office of Talent requests authorization to contract with Community Council Educational Services (CC) to operate up to approximately 45 emotional support (ES) classrooms by delivering qualified teachers, and a wide range of academic, behavioral and support services to students with serious emotional disturbance (ED), and for whom the School District believes more complex educational and therapeutic supports are required. The School District has utilized the contracted ES classroom model successfully since September 2009. The School District selected CC using a competitive process through Request for Proposal (RFP) No. 542, issued by the School District’s Office of Procurement Services on May 9, 2017.
The District’s Office of Talent engages in an exhaustive and comprehensive recruitment effort to locate, hire and place certified special education teachers and qualified special education assistants to fill vacancies and new positions for the upcoming school year. Even with a thorough, expansive recruitment and marketing effort aimed at drawing certified teachers and assistants to the District, the District estimates that there may be up to 45 ES teacher and 45 ES assistant vacancies.
Some students with ED have Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) that require them to receive instruction and intensive behavioral supports in an ES classroom setting. In addition to specialized instruction, ES classrooms provide students with intensive therapeutic behavioral supports. Contracted ES classrooms provide students with ED with multiple professionals experienced in providing coordinated educational and behavioral support services. The Contractors will staff each contracted classroom with a certified special education teacher who will provide special education instruction and emotional support services to the students.
In each contracted classroom, the Contractor will implement with fidelity the curriculum mandated by the School District and that is in full accord with the Pennsylvania core academic standards. In addition, the Contractor will utilize the Office of Specialized Services (OSS)’s approved research-based interventions and evidence-based therapeutic models that provide both educational and behavioral supports for students with ED.
Before recommending an ES placement, a multidisciplinary team in collaboration with an OSS Special Education Director and the OSS Coordinator for Emotional Support Programs, carefully reviews a student’s educational and therapeutic needs. Additional information and recommendations may be requested from the school psychologist, school nurse and Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) team. Students considered for ES programs must fit a profile that identifies the need for intensive emotional and behavioral supports. Students’ behavioral issues may range from anger control to conduct disorders to severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. These students present persistent and often volatile behaviors of aggression and explosive episodes in the school and home setting. The need for a more therapeutic environment becomes evident as student behaviors persist and regular modes of treatment and intervention prove ineffectual. Therapeutic supports provided in these classrooms ensure that students are safely educated with peers in neighborhood schools, in the least restrictive environment, and with a repertoire of research-based interventions.
The Contractors’ ES programs will implement and comply with each participating students’ IEP and will address the instruction and related services each student needs to achieve academic and behavioral success. For those classrooms contracted to CC, ES programs will consist minimally of one full-time, certified special education teacher, a teacher assistant, and behavioral assistant. In addition, within the Contractor’s administration structure, a service coordinator or identified agency member will support family and inter-agency involvement by linking with parents and mental health resources to provide students with a continuum of care. The Contractor uses a research-based model called the Circle of Courage. This model is part of the national re-education movement, which views children holistically rather than as solely problematic. The Circle of Courage model focuses on character and leadership development in preparation for positive lifestyle and increases participation in the general population. Programs include academic, behavioral, therapeutic, and life skills services.
ABC Code/Funding Source $6,750,000.00 1901-005-9580-1231-3291 Operating Budget
APPS Analysis: This ongoing reliance on outside vendors to provide services for District students removes responsibility and accountability from District shoulders and shifts it onto a private entity. Stable relationships are essential for students. Who actually monitors these classrooms? We have seen the District outsource to another vendor with promises of close monitoring with no apparent follow through. If these ES classrooms were under the direct authority of the District then this would not be an issue. The more that is contracted out the less accountability there is. Is this a system we want for our children?
Speech Therapist Video Conference vs Speech Therapist
IDEA: $315,000 Contracts with Cobb Pediatric Services, Presence Learning and Educational Based Services (EBS) – Web Based Video Conferencing Speech Therapy Services
RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission acting in its capacity as Board of Directors of the Philadelphia Intermediate Unit 26 (IU-26) authorizes IU-26, through the Executive Director or his designee, to execute, deliver and perform contracts separately with Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services, PresenceLearning and Educational Based Services (EBS), to provide students with speech therapy, speech/language evaluations and other Speech related services through on-line, web-based video- conferencing, for an aggregate amount not to exceed $315,000, for the period commencing July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019.
Description:The Contractors have developed highly effective programs for the delivery of speech therapy services through on-line video conferencing. The Contractors will deliver these services through computer terminals located at students’ home schools. This will enable students who have Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) requiring speech therapy services, and for whom these services are appropriate, to receive speech therapy on-line with a qualified therapists, using a computer located at their home school. The Contractors’ therapists shall communicate with School District students face-to-face in real time, using computers screens, speakers and microphones. The School District will carefully select students for whom these on-line services are appropriate. All Contractors’ on-line speech therapists will be highly qualified and appropriately licensed and certified as speech-language pathologists/therapists.
The School District has approximately 5,517 students with IEPs who require speech and language therapy. The Contractors will provide on-line speech and language therapeutic services for up to 300 of these students. This will help ensure that all eligible students receive required speech and language therapeutic services.
Using the School District’s Easy System, the Contractors will monitor assigned students’ progress, record student outcomes in reaching IEP goals, maintain logs of all work performed, and track minutes/sessions of all on-line therapeutic services provided to students. When requested by the School District, the Contractors shall complete documentation needed for ACCESS reimbursement.
Through the on-line system, the Contractors when requested by the School District, will provide diagnostic evaluations to determine eligibility and need for speech/language therapeutic services. This includes the appropriate diagnoses and treatment of stuttering, voice disorders, functional and organic articulation disorders, and language delays/disorders. In addition, the on-line therapist may participate in the multi-disciplinary team process for student special education evaluations and IEP planning.
The School District selected the Contractors using a competitive process, through Request For Proposal No. 535, issued by the Office of Procurement Services on March 15, 2017.
ABC Code/Funding Source $315,000.00 242X-G05-9CL0-239A-3291 IDEA
APPS Analysis: This appears to be an annual contract subjecting our students to screen time with their speech therapist. As we noted in the June 17, 2017 Eyes web based video screening services do not nurture relationships not only with the child but also with adults responsible for the child’s development. A video screen therapist cannot run down the hall and observe the student in their class nor conference with her/his teacher. This perpetuates the agenda seeking to replace humans with screens. In February 2018 the Stepping Stones Group acquired Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services. This is like watching PAC Man as one entity gobbles up another. According to Businesswire “Stepping Stones is a portfolio company of Five Arrows Capital Partners, the North American corporate private equity business of Rothschild Merchant Banking. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.” Who’s the next buyer?
Operating Budget: $4,947,440 Contract with Automotive Rentals, Inc. (ARI) – Non-Bus Fleet Management
RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to execute, deliver and perform a contract with Automotive Rentals, Inc., for an amount not to exceed $4,947,440, subject to funding, for the period commencing July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2023.
Description:The School District of Philadelphia maintains a fleet of approximately 450 buses and 400 non-bus vehicles. The non-bus fleet operates out of a garage located at 25th and Tasker, Philadelphia, and is staffed with four mechanics and one foreman. The majority of vehicles are assigned to Operations Division staff for Maintenance Mechanics, Facilities Areas Coordinators, Food Service Supervisors, School Police and Transportation Services as administrative pool cars for employees.
Due to a lack of staffing and equipment at the garages, partnered with an increased need to focus on supporting daily bus operations, the preventive maintenance program has been suspended for the non-bus fleet, and a significant portion of the inspection and maintenance work for the vehicles is currently being outsourced to various service providers. In order to prioritize attention to the District’s bus fleet and to provide quality service and oversight for the non-bus fleet, Transportation issued RFP 566 to outsource the non-bus fleet maintenance program.
The RFP evaluated services for Scheduling Routine Maintenance, Tracking Non-Routine Maintenance, Maintaining Accurate Vehicle Assignments, Monitoring Vehicle Location and Utilization, Managing Violation Fee Payments, Vehicle Valuation and Replacement, and other Value-Added Services. Vendors were scored based on Expertise, Capacity and Bandwidth, Experience, Contract Management, Information Technology, Pricing, and MWBE Participation.
Two vendors, Enterprise and ARI, responded to the RFP. Enterprise proposed a vehicle-leasing model requirement as part of the overall fleet management program, requiring that at least 5% of the fleet be leased through their organization. Additionally, Enterprise’s proposal provided traffic violation fee management for leased vehicles only, and was unable to use any GPS platform other than their own (GeoTab).
While both companies have experience and expertise to manage Transportation’s requirements, ARI presented a true management model, proposing to manage the current fleet as-is. ARI’s pricing at $4.00 per vehicle per month was competitive compared to Enterprise’s $5.50 per vehicle per month. As a management company, ARI will also receive up to 6% of the total repair cost completed by a network of independent repair shops.
The Evaluation Committee selected ARI based on their ability to provide all the necessary management and repair oversight services without additional investment in the acquisition of new or leased vehicles.
ABC Code/Funding Source 1100-027-9090-2654-4311 FY-19 ($989,488.00) 1100-027-9090-2654-4311 FY-20 ($989,488.00) 1100-027-9090-2654-4311 FY-21 ($989,488.00) 1100-027-9090-2654-4311 FY-22 ($989,488.00) 1100-027-9090-2654-4311 FY-23 ($989,488.00) $4,947,440.00
APPS ANALYSIS: The District has outsourced bus service and run into enormous problems with a selected provider so why would they continue to give contracts to vendors for maintenance? Why is there a lack of staffing and equipment at garages? This presents a basic safety issue as thousands of children board these buses daily. In 2015 a bus mechanic testified before the SRC about the dangerous conditions of buses serviced by private companies who often failed to correct serious mechanical problems. Once again contracting out basic vehicle maintenance hands accountability over to the private sector.
Categorical/Grant Fund/Operating Budget: $8,930 Ratification of Contract with IXL Learning, Inc. – Software License Renewal – Rowen Elementary School
RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission herby ratifies the execution, delivery, and performance by the School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent, of a contact with IXL Learning, Inc. to provide instructional online learning in science and social studies in grades kindergarten through fifth grade, for an amount not to exceed $8,930 for a period commencing September 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018.
Description:IXL is an immersive K-5 blended learning experience that provides supplemental, standards- aligned content for science, social studies, math and language arts.
The Rowan school principal was unaware of the district process that requires an approved limited contract agreement before technology products, like IXL, can be purchased. Since the school was using IXL already, the school could not complete a limited contract agreement. IXL allowed the school to maintain service until payment was made and the school completed the required purchasing process. This resolution is required so the school can meet District purchasing processes with respect to IXL.
ABC Code/Funding Source $8,930.00 201X-G02-7530-1101-6461 Title I ($8,380.00)
1100-002-7530-1101-6461 Operating ($550.00)
APPS Analysis: Our students need teachers. They need relationships with adults and other children. IXL (I Excel) has provided “ instructional online learning in science and social studies in grades kindergarten through fifth grade” to Rowen School. Science should be hands-on whether it is growing plants, raising animals, studying life cycles, or performing basic experiments. This subject area is for exploring not for watching a video or looking at a screen. Critics of IXL’s Math program point to excessive use of drills that don’t provide opportunities to apply skills in real-world ways.IXL appears to be a favorite instructional mode with families that homeschool. Parents and student reviews of the program are negative. This program fails to encourage interaction with teachers, other students, or actual materials. IXL belongs to online learning that focuses on devices rather than human interactions and rote memorization.
OUR SCHOOLS ARE NOT CHARITIES
Donation: $175,000 Acceptance of Donation from Wells Fargo Foundation – Cramp Elementary School
RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee to accept with appreciation the generous donation from Wells Fargo, valued at approximately $175,000, including the purchasing of new tables and chairs for the cafeteria, installing a wardrobe closet for the community resource room, minor renovations to the teacher lounge, installing pads in the gymnasium, renovations to the school library, beautification of outdoor areas, including the painting of exterior murals and gardens near the school’s entrance, interior murals in the cafeteria, gym hallways and stairwells, and painting of bathrooms.
Description:Wells Fargo plans to host its fifth signature Day of Service for the School District of Philadelphia on Saturday, May 19, 2018 from 9 am to 4 pm. The location this year will be the Cramp Elementary School, 449 N Howard St, Philadelphia, PA 19140. The event will engage more than 500 Wells Fargo team members, 35 City Year Corp members, and Cramp School community members, in a range of projects and activities benefiting the school.
These projects include renovations to the library, the purchasing of new tables and chairs for the cafeteria, installing a wardrobe closet for the community resource room, minor renovations to the teacher lounge, installing pads in the gymnasium and renovations to the school library, beautification of outdoor areas, including murals and gardens near the entrance, and interior painting of bathrooms, interior murals in the cafeteria, gym, hallways and stairwells.
The entire planning and implementation of the Day of Service and the projects included are being coordinated by leadership from Wells Fargo, the Cramp Elementary School staff, City Year of Greater Philadelphia and the District’s Offices of Strategic Partnerships and Facilities.
ABC Code/Funding Source
APPS Analysis: Here is another project that plans on renovating a school library. Do these plans include staffing the library with a certified teacher librarian (CTL)? In 1991 there were 176 CTLs in the District. There has been a steady attrition so that by 2012 only 43 were left. Now there are less than 8. Many students attend schools never knowing what a school library is since they never had one. Libraries have been taken apart and repurposed, staffed by volunteers, or simply allowed to crumble. There needs to be clarification about what these renovations are and if there will be a CTL staffing this valuable school resource that surrounding districts would never eliminate.
Acceptance of No-Cost Extension of K-3 Literacy Grant from the William Penn Foundation RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to accept a no-cost extension of the utilization period of a grant from the William Penn Foundation, previously authorized pursuant to Resolution B-4, approved by the School Reform Commission on June 18, 2015, to continue supporting K-3 early literacy efforts across all elementary schools, by extending that grant utilization period from its scheduled expiration date of April 30, 2018 through June 30, 2019.
Description:A key component of the School District’s Action Plan, which sets the strategic direction for improving the performance of the District, is Anchor Goal 2, ensuring that students are reading on grade- level by third grade. As part of the work in support of Anchor Goal 2, the District designed a set of supports and resources to enhance literacy instruction in the early grades, including teacher training and redesigned instructional materials and assessments.
Over the past three years this overall effort has been supported through a generous grant from the William Penn Foundation, which has been used in the following three areas:
– Annual week-long summer institutes where teachers from different schools across the city work with national and regional experts to deepen their literacy skills and knowledge;
– Job-embedded support for K-3 teachers provided by a trained teacher coach; and
– Classroom libraries of leveled books (fiction and informational) that students use during class and at home, and that teachers use to provide the necessary mix of individual, small group and whole class instruction that is the foundation of helping young children to become fluent and proficient readers. This request for approval of a no-cost extension is designed to extend the K-3 services at all elementary schools for the William Penn Foundation grant award period noted above, which was originally authorized by the SRC via Resolution B-4 of June 18, 2015.
ABC Code/Funding Source N/A
APPS ANALYSIS: All of the above used to be provided by the District. With powerhouse funding from the William Penn Foundation in hand the District is emphasizing creation of classroom libraries for Early Literacy. A classroom library does not replace a certified school librarian who maintains a collection, assists students and teachers in doing research, helps analyze real news vs fake, and maintains a wide collection of both print and online materials that are suitable for, and available to, all grade levels. What if they applied their grants to ensuring that every District school had a functioning library staffed with a certified teacher librarian(CTL). According to commissioner Bill Green’s finding that would take about $24 million and impact over 130,000 students. Once again when the largesse of these funders dissipates so does their money that supports these programs. Our schools cannot be dependent on the generosity of foundations to fund programs. We have noted several times that Anchor Goal 2 is unrealistic and does not take into account child development nor actual resources allocated to each and every school
Where’s Our Artwork?
Operating Budget: $25,000.20 Contract Amendment with Atelier Art Services – Storage of Artwork
RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to execute, deliver and perform an amendment to Contract No. 0488D/F10, entered into with Atelier Art Services, Inc., pursuant to Resolution No. A-53, approved by the School Reform Commission on June 15, 2016, by increasing the amount authorized to be spent by an additional $25,000.20 from $102,471.80, to an amount not to exceed $127,472.00; and extending the Term of the contract from its scheduled expiration date of June 30, 2018 to June 30, 2020, to provide storage for valuable artwork owned by the School District.
Description:The School District originally entered into Contract No. 488/F10 with Atelier Art Services, Inc., pursuant to Resolution No. A-19, approved by the School Reform Commission on October 21, 2009. This contract provides for storage for valuable artwork owned by the School District under conditions appropriate for the care of these works. The School District later amended this Contract, generally to pay for and extend the Term, under Resolution Nos. A-10, October 26, 2011; No. A-14, February 21, 2013; A-38, May 29, 2014; No. A-40, August 21, 2014; No. B-5, October 15, 2015; and No A-53, dated June 16, 2016.
Atelier Art Services, Inc. will continue to provide safe and secure storage for over 200 works of art from District schools and administrative buildings in a state-of-the-art climate controlled Facility. The Office of Comprehensive Arts is working on a plan to utilize the art for public viewing. We have maintained a good relationship with Atelier and find their services more than sufficient for our storage. This contract will allow the District more time to develop a long-term strategy for usage of the art. Many pieces need to be appraised and thus must remain in storage for the time being.
ABC Code/Funding Source $25,000.20 1100-051-9020-2361-3111 Operating ($4,481.00)
1100-051-9020-2361-3111 Operating ($20,519.20)
APPS ANALYSIS: In 2004, then-CEO Paul Vallas ordered the covert removal of over 1,000 pieces of artwork from District schools. (Resolution A-53):“ Students, staff and principals returned to school after Christmas break to find empty spaces where their art used to be. All of the art purchased by the Wilson Middle School community over decades, making it an art museum as well as school, was taken with no explanation. Vallas left before he could sell it off. It has been in storage for 12 years. At one time the SRC considered selling the artwork rather than restore it to the schools from which it was taken, but decided against it after a retired Wilson teacher testified about its value to the students. In 2013 it was determined that 72 of the valuable paintings were missing.”
It has been 14 years since the secretive removal of artwork. It belongs back in the schools or at the very least displayed at 440. The Resolution says it is storage for over 200 so tell us exactly how many pieces are left and what the District intends to do with them?
Real Estate Entanglements
Operating Budget: $60,000 Contract with The Reinvestment Fund (TRF) – School District
Surplus Property Market Analysis
RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes the School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee to execute, deliver and perform a contract with The Reinvestment Fund (TRF), to identify key market and population considerations to inform the disposition of District owned surplus property for an amount not to exceed $60,000 for the period commencing April 27, 2018 to January 31, 2019.
Description:The School District of Philadelphia maintains a building portfolio that includes 15 surplus properties.
Many of these properties became vacant in June 2013 following the closure of over twenty schools as part of the District’s Facilities Master Plan. While the School District has achieved modest success with the sale of its surplus properties, the buildings that remain require greater analysis to help guide decisions on whether to retain and repurpose or to develop a new strategy to market the properties for sale.
In order to inform final recommendations to the School Reform Commission, the School District will engage The Reinvestment Fund (TRF) to identify key market and population considerations to inform the decisions on vacant school buildings. For each property, TRF will create a 2-page profile to summarize the
current market and demographic conditions which could impact the feasibility of sale, the likelihood and direction of neighborhood market change, and key questions for consideration to guide School District of Philadelphia disposition decisions.
ABC Code/Funding Source $60,000.00 1100-037-9FP0-2615-3111 FY18 Operations ($20,000.00)
1100-037-9FP0-2615-3111 FY19 Operations ($40,000.00)
APPS Analysis: The description for this Resolution is very unclear when it states that The Reinvestment Fund is to “identify key market and population considerations to inform the disposition of District owned surplus property”. What does this really mean? This “surplus property” was once the heart and soul of a community until the District declared its closure.
These schools did not “become vacant” they were closed by the District to “save money” as part of the Facilities Management Plan. However, the district vastly overestimated the cost savings, and the district has consistently sold vacant school properties for well below market value.
Smith School was shuttered in 2013 and once the legal hurdles were cleared flipped to a neighborhood developer cashing in on the rapid gentrification of Point Breeze. He is turning the building into market value apartments and constructing townhouses in the schoolyard. Is this the future for shuttered school buildings? Germantown High School (GHS) shut down a year before attaining its 100thanniversary. Students were scattered to other comprehensive high schools. A Community Plan was presented to house Fulton Elementary School (located behind GHS) inside of the GHS building but gained no traction with an administration determined to shutter the school. Both Fulton and GHS stand vacant. Now the District is spending money to figure out what to do?
SLA Middle School Update
Lease Agreement with University City Science Center – Science Leadership Academy Middle School
RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent, or his designee, to execute, deliver and perform a two (2) year lease agreement with the University City Science Center, for the rental of approximately 26,331 square feet located at 3600 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA, (the “Premises”). The annual rent for the first year of the term is $789,930 per year ($30.00 per rentable square foot) to be paid monthly commencing on July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019. The annual rent for the second year of the term is $816,261 per year ($31.00 per rentable square foot) to be paid monthly commencing on July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020. All utilities, maintenance, cleaning and common area charges are covered in the rental payments.
Description:The Science Leadership Academy Middle School (“SLA-MS”) is a District managed program serving grades 5 and 6. The school is expected to reach its full grade complement as a 5-8 middle school by the 2020-21 academic year.
For the past two years, SLA-MS has occupied space on Drexel University’s campus at the Dornsife Building. The Dornsife Building will not have the capacity or space to house the SLA-MS program due to the addition of grade 7 and the enrollment growth. As a result, the School District will relocate the program to the University City Science Center located at 3600 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104. The approximate 27,000 square feet of space can accommodate the current and future growth of the SLA- MS program. The term of the lease is concurrent with Drexel University’s fundraising and planning efforts to construct a permanent facility for SLA-MS and Powel Elementary School by the 2020-21 academic year.
ABC Code/Funding Source $1,606,191.00 1100-031-9FP0-2628-4411 FY2019 General Fund ($789,930.00)
1100-031-9FP0-2628-4411 FY2020 General Fund ($816,261.00)
APPS ANALYSIS: In 2014 Drexel University bought the 14 acre University City High School site from the School District for the basement bargain price of $25 million. They turned around and “ground leased” it to The University City Science Center and real estate developer Wexford Science+Technology who renamed it uCity Square. The University Science Center plans to double in size as part of a $1 billion dollar project with Wexford. Initially plans called for including an expanded Powel Elementary School, which currently serves students in K-4, and a Science Leadership Academy (SLA) Middle School. Presently it is difficult to determine if these plans still remain. SLAMS has been housed at Drexel’s Dornsife Building for the past two years. Now they will move into a larger facility to accommodate adding a grade that requires rent of over $1 million for the next two years. Why is the District spending such a large sum on rental when they have been moving other schools out of rental situations? SLA is moving into Ben Franklin High School instead of remaining in the Center City rental building. Over the past several years other schools have been relocated into formerly vacant buildings so why are they paying such a large sum of money? Can’t Drexel pay as part of their PILOTS and/or commitment to the city?
Operating Budget: $15,400,000 Contract Amendments with Various Vendors – To-From Taxi/Cab Services
RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes the School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to execute, deliver and perform an amendment of Contract 0910/F15 with City Cab, CPC Management Inc, and Montco Transportation Services for the taxicab transportation of students to and from school, approved by the School Reform Commission on May 21, 2015, by increasing the amount of the contract by an additional $15,400,000, from the $22,792,072 approved in Resolution A-46, to an amount not to exceed $38,192,072, through the term of the original contract on June 30, 2018.
Description:As part of RFP-442, City Cab, CPC Management Inc, and Montco Transportation Services were awarded a three-year contract by the School District of Philadelphia in May 2015 to provide to/from transportation using taxicabs. Cab services are available to special needs students with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) requirement where students have a minimum ride time or must ride alone.
The total cost of cab transportation services will not exceed $38,192,072.
ABC Code/Funding Source $15,400,000.00 1100-027-9590-VARI-5133 FY18 ($11,265,334.00)
1901-005-9580-2734-4131 FY18 ($4,134,666.00)
APPS Analysis: What is the justification for the increase? Are there more students who need taxi services? What is the average commute time for special education students? Should this money be invested in building capacity for door to door special education transportation, as opposed to providing taxi services for students who have successfully fought to get into their IEPs shorter commute times?