Eyes on the SRC: January 21, 2016

SRC 11-19-15 #2

By Karel Kilimnik

Welcome to the Sixth Edition of Eyes on the SRC.

A note to our readers: this analysis is based on what the SRC has released to date. The SRC often adds new resolutions up until the day of the meeting. We will review the list periodically and let you know of any new resolutions. In addition, rules for speaking appear to be fluid at this time. From the district website:

Revisions to current practice regarding speaker order: 

The School Reform Commission will be implementing new protocols based on two general principles. First, it is important to group speakers on the same or similar topics at Action Meetings in order to give Commissioners the ability to gain the big picture on each topic. Second, the Commission would like to encourage new voices and topics at meetings.

Beginning January 21st, 2016, the School Reform Commission (SRC) will be enacting the following changes to the order in which speakers testify at SRC Action Meetings:

  • Student speakers will continue to be prioritized and normally will speak first.
  • Other speakers will be grouped by topic, based on the order in which their topics were registered.
  • Speakers who did not speak at the previous meeting, will be allowed to speak first within their topic group, and followed by those speakers who did have the opportunity to speak at the previous meeting.
  • Speakers on resolutions will no longer be prioritized, given that all speakers have an opportunity to speak before votes are taken on resolutions. These speakers will be grouped by topic and the time at which they register along with all other speakers. [Emphasis added]

 When you call to register to speak, please ask what number your topic is. Let’s hold them to their new set of rules. Fasten your seatbelt for the ride. It may be bumpy.

Next SRC meeting: Thursday January 21, 5:30 PM. To register to speak you must call 215.400.4180 by 4:30 January 20. It’s best to identify yourself as a teacher, parent, or community member as the rules stipulate that only “one member of an organization can register to speak.”

 Proposed Resolutions for January 21, 2016 SRC Action Meeting

Resolution SRC-3 (Pending)
Proposed Action on Ligouri Academy Charter School Revised Application

APPS Analysis: Remember this from the last round of charter school applications? This is a charter schoolgrounded in the philosophy Alphonsus Liguori, an 18th-century Catholic bishop from Italy.”

“ We’re not Catholic. We have no religious affiliation,” said the school director, the Rev. Mike Marrone, a priest who has taken a voluntary leave of absence from the vocation. Theology classes wouldn’t be on the agenda, he says.”


Resolution A-2 :Categorical Grant Fund: $6,000 Contract Ratification with Bucks County IU# 22 – Train the Trainer Program

RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission hereby ratifies the execution, delivery, and performance by The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent, of a contract with Bucks County Intermediate Unit #22 for a “Train the Trainer” program to provide Principals and Assistant Principals with guidance for the implementation of the Charlotte Danielson Framework for Effective Teaching as part of the PDE’s Race to the Top program, for an amount not to exceed $6,000 for the period commencing July 9, 2013 through July 12, 2013.

Description: This is a ratifying resolution because we received additional professional development services that were necessary to achieve our goal, however, the cost of those services exceeded the $10,000 threshold of our initial Limited Contract Agreement. The necessary documentation to amend the LCA was not completed and/or processed before the delivery of the additional services. The Effectiveness Office has undergone significant changes since the time the original training took place, including reorganization and reclassification. In the midst of these changes, the outstanding invoices from Bucks County IU 22 were overlooked. Representatives from Bucks County IU 22 recently reached out to us to request payment of the outstanding invoices. The Office of Effectiveness was informed to create a ratifying resolution to ensure payment for the services received.      [Emphasis added]

ABC Code/Funding Source 3F4X-G07-9750-2272-3291 Race to the Top

APPS Analysis: Note that this $6,000 is part of a larger bill for more paid training through the Hite-created Office of Teacher Effectiveness.   The “cash-strapped” district actually exceeded the $10,000 threshold needed to “achieve our goal”—which was what? To spend more on this superfluous department when teachers are struggling to be effective while covering classes because the district outsourced substitutes?

Operations                        $6,000.00

Resolution A-3: Capital Fund: $3,009,000 Capital Project Awards

RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes the School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent, or his designee, to execute, deliver and perform contracts with the lowest responsible bidders identified in the attachment at an aggregate cost of $3,009,000.00.

Description: Spec: B-070 C [R]
of 2014/15 General Contract – Facade Restoration
Martha Washington Elementary School – 766 North 44th Street Robert Ganter Contractors, Inc. (W) – $1,865,000.00 Quakertown, Pennsylvania 18951
ABC Code: 8Q11-065-1420-4637-4541-06
Total Aggregate M/WBE Participation: 100.0%

This contract covers the labor, material, and equipment to necessary for the selective building restoration and roof replacement at this location.

The bids for M. Washington ES project were publically advertised on 11/6/15, 11/18/15, and 11/24/15 in several local newspapers and posted on the School District’s Capital Programs Website. The award is recommended to the responsive and responsible bidder who submitted the lowest price and met the technical and construction specifications. Bids were publically opened on 12/1/15. After review of the bids and a de-scoping meeting it was determined that Robert Ganter Contractors, Inc. was the lowest responsible bidder with a bid of $1,865,000.00.

APPS Analysis: Is Martha Washington E.S. next on the list to be turned into a charter school? The district has a history of fixing up school buildings before giving them to charter school operators. The most blatant example was handing the brand-new Audenreid H S to Kenny Gamble’s Universal Company.


Resolution A-9 (Pending): Operating Budget: $240,000 Contract with Abby Pozeksky – Office of General Counsel Services

APPS Analysis: Who is Abby Pozeksky and why is she getting a $240,000 contract. Our researchers were unable to find her in an internet search.

 General Counsel

Resolution A-10: Settlement of Civil Action – Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools and Lisa Haver

RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes the School Reform Commission, through the Chair, and The School District of Philadelphia, through the General Counsel, to enter into a settlement agreement with Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools and Lisa Haver, in a form satisfactory to the School Reform Commission and the Office of General Counsel, in exchange for releases of all claims for alleged violations by the School Reform Commission of the Sunshine Act, including: (i) all claims that the announcements of reasons for executive sessions by the SRC are insufficiently specific; (ii) all claims that the SRC is engaging in private deliberations simply because the members of the SRC may refrain from discussing resolutions during their public meetings; and (iii) all claims arising out of or in connection with the special public meeting of the SRC held on October 6, 2014, and dismissal of the civil action filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County and the appeal filed in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, at no cost to the School District.

Description: On November 4, 2014, Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools and Lisa Haver filed a lawsuit against the SRC, the School District and Chairman William Green in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, November Term, 2014, No. 382, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief for alleged violations by the School Reform Commission of the Sunshine Act. On January 19, 2015, plaintiffs filed an Emergency Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Motion for Preliminary Injunction, which Motions were denied by the Court by Order dated February 3, 2015. On February 26, 2015, plaintiffs filed a Notice of Appeal to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania from the Order denying their Motions, Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania; No. 284 CD 2015. This resolution documents the settlement of the issues between the parties.

APPS Analysis: APPS filed suit against the SRC for violations of the PA Sunshine Act November 2014 just after they held their stealth meeting to cancel the PFT contract. For some reason, the SRC has posted this same resolution each month, even though there is no settlement, then rescinds it the day of the meeting without any notice. Last month an amount of $70,800 was posted—is that lawyers fees? This case should have been settled months ago.

Resolution B-3 (Updated 1.5.16): Categorical/Grant Fund: $58,859 Contract Amendment with the Free Library of Philadelphia

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 No. 505/F15, originally entered into with The Free Library of Philadelphia, pursuant to Resolution B-6, approved by the School Reform Commission on November 20, 2014, by increasing the amount of the Contract by an additional $58,859, from $114,915 approved by Resolution B-6, to an amount not to exceed $173,774, to continue providing payments for the coordination and management of book distribution, on-line support from local librarians, and community-based family literacy activities.

Description: The additional funding provided by the Innovative Approaches to Literacy grant will ensure that the District’s 10 lowest performing elementary schools (Anderson, Barry, Bryant, Elkin, McDaniel, J.B. Kelly, Ludlow, Meade, Morris, Sullivan) are fully funded through programs and training provided by The Free Library of Philadelphia.

The District’s Anchor Goal #2, is to ensure that every child is a proficient reader no later than age 8. The School District of Philadelphia and The Free Library of Philadelphia (FLP) worked together to craft a funding proposal in response to the U.S. Department of Education’s recent Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) grant competition to meet this Anchor Goal. IAL is designed to meet the following objectives in 10 of the District’s lowest-performing elementary schools: (a) improve curriculum and instruction for students; (b) re-invigorate student learning environments, especially in light of the loss of library staff in many of our schools; and (c) train and meaningfully engage parents and caregivers in the improvement of their children’s literacy skills. Key leadership and program personnel from both the District and FLP see the resulting, collaborative “Building Bridges with Books: Uniting Schools, Public Libraries and Families” (or “B3”) initiative as an opportunity to deepen their partnership, and to achieve the objectives noted above through the following series of activities:

  • Provide a broad array of high-quality early literacy activities to students in grades K-1 during the program’s inaugural year, and then to many of the same students in grades 1-2 during the second implementation period;
  • Leverage the existing library space in District schools by updating the physical book collection with age- and grade-appropriate books and other literacy resources; creating a digital learning environment for students through the introduction of computerized tablets connected to FLP’s digital content—including over 1,000 high-quality titles suitable for the early elementary level—and terminals that participating students can use to reserve books from any FLP branch and/or chat with a certified librarian;
  • Provide student participants (in grades K-1 in Year One and grades 1-2 in Year Two) on-going access to certified children’s librarians through the performance of bi-monthly trips to a neighborhood FLP branch. In addition, certified FLP librarians will visit each of the 10 target schools on a weekly basis to help teachers in the pilot program better utilize the new and innovative resources offered within the augmented library space; and
  • Meaningfully engage parents with children participating in the 10-site pilot program by providing them with a sequenced early literacy training program at FLP and bi-monthly reading sessions hosted by their respective schools.

ABC Code/Funding Source $58,859.00 38DX-G52-9180-2296-3291

APPS Analysis: While coordination with the Free Library may provide some help to students in struggling schools, what all students need is a school library run by a certified school librarian—just as students in every other district have. Surely Superintendent Hite knows that studies show how beneficial having a school library is to children’s learning and how it has a real impact on raising their reading levels. Going to the neighborhood library every two weeks really does not compare. It is not acceptable that this district has less than TEN full time librarians. This money could be better spent restoring a full-time librarian.

Resolution B-8: Categorical/Grant Fund: $97,805 Contract with International Institute for Restorative Practices – George Washington High 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 contract with International Institute for Restorative Practices to provide training for George Washington High School staff and professional development to staff in the area of restorative practices for an amount not to exceed $97,805.00 for the period commencing February 2, 2016 through June 30, 2017.

Description: Whole-School Change is a program of the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP), a graduate school based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Since 1999 the IIRP Continuing Education Division has helped even the most challenging schools improve their teaching and learning environment through “restorative practices,” a proactive approach to whole school climate change based on communication and responsibility.

The IIRP’s SaferSanerSchoolsTM Whole-School Change program is a cost-effective way to achieve lasting change that enhances and builds relationships between students, staff and parents, improves student behavior, reduces violence and bullying and creates a sense of community. IIRP provides a comprehensive two-year school implementation program, unlike piecemeal efforts using varied approaches that lack an explicit focus. IIRP helps the school leadership and staff develop a customized plan based on its own needs and goals, organizes staff “professional learning groups” and regular follow- up phone meetings, delivers onsite professional development and assists with evaluation. Everyone on the school staff has a say and a role in implementation. Several staff are selected and trained as professional development instructors to ensure program sustainability.

Whole-School was chosen because they have developed the full school program that districts across the country are using to implement restorative practices.

They have worked with many District schools, most recently the following: Harding MS, Roxborough HS, HSOF, MLK HS, South Philadelphia HS, Morris Elem, K-CAPA HS, Overbrook HS. This was part of a grant from the Philadelphia Foundation.

ABC Code/Funding Source $97,805.00 201X-G04-8030-2272-3000 Title 1 ($97,805.00)

APPS Analysis: You know what doesn’t seem “sane” to us? Choosing to fund this kind of program BEFORE the district restores counselors, nurses, adequate teaching staff, classroom assistants, experienced Assistant Principals. These programs may have some value, but how effective can they be in a severely understaffed school?

Resolution B-12 (Updated 1.5.16): Donations: $128,697 Ratification of Acceptance of Donation from Philadelphia School Partnership: $72,303 Acceptance of Donation from Inquiry Schools – Science Leadership Academy Middle School

RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission revokes Resolution A-33 from August 20, 2015, and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission hereby ratifies the acceptance with appreciation by The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent, of a generous donation from the Philadelphia School Partnership, to fund the salary and benefits for a design leader, valued at approximately $128,697, for the proposed Science Leadership Academy Middle School (“SLA-MS”); and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee: (i) to accept with appreciation the generous donation from Inquiry Schools, through a donation from the Philadelphia School Partnership, of professional development, consulting services, and related supports, valued at approximately $72,303, for the SLA-MS school design process; and (ii) to execute, deliver and perform a Memorandum of Understanding with Inquiry Schools and such other documents necessary to further the intent of this Resolution.

Description: This resolution revokes Resolution A-33, approved by the School Reform Commission on August 20, 2015. The resolution is being revoked to more accurately reflect the requirements of the grant as stipulated by Philadelphia School Partnership. This new resolution reflects the donation of monies from Philadelphia School Partnership directly to the School District of Philadelphia.

The School District is opening a new, non-selective-admission Science Leadership Academy Middle School (SLA-MS) in Powelton. This new school would be part of a proposed K-8 school facility at the site of the former University City High School that would also house an expanded Samuel Powel Elementary School.

This proposal is the result of a multi-year community planning process that included a wide range of stakeholders. Representatives from Powelton Village, West Powelton, Saunders Park and other local civic associations; parents, teachers, and school leadership from Powel Elementary School and Science Leadership Academy; the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers; Drexel University faculty; local elected officials; the People’s Emergency Center; the Philadelphia School Partnership; and others have taken part thus far in the planning process.

The grant funds, the acceptance of which are being ratified through this resolution, will support the salary and benefits for a design leader who will drive the planning for the new SLA-MS. The resolution also authorizes the acceptance of a donation from Inquiry Schools of professional development, consulting services, and related supports for the school design and planning process.

The Philadelphia School Partnership previously provided grant funds to Drexel University from its Great Schools Fund to support the strategic planning process for this initiative, and is continuing to provide certain funding to support the next stage in the planning process.

ABC Code/Funding Source $201,000.00

APPS: Chris Lehman, Assistant Superintendent for the Innovation Network, founded SLA High School in Center City and is currently listed as chair of the board of Inquiry Schools. He is also listed as Superintendent of Inquiry Schools. PSP provides funds for “ the salary and benefits for a design leader”. Is this a new name for a principal? Where would this person be working? The site where this school will be located is still under construction. PSP continues to have significant influence over funding in the district. They have money, the District is broke. PSP selects schools to create and fund, furthering the segregation of our District into the haves and have-nots. Instead of ensuring that every school has what it needs, they continue to pick and choose schools to support. Whatever happened to doing for everyone instead of a chosen few?

IV. Intermediate Unit

Resolution IU-1: Categorical/Grant Fund: $11,025 Contract with Jounce Partners, Inc. – Independence Mission Schools

RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission acting in its capacity as the Board of Directors of the Philadelphia Intermediate Unit 26, authorizes IU 26, through the Executive Director or his designee, to execute, deliver and perform a contract with Jounce Partners, Inc. to provide teacher and leadership coaching on highly-effective instructional strategies to increase student achievement at Independence Mission Schools, for an amount not to exceed $11,025, for the period commencing January 22, 2016 through June 30, 2016.

Description: Intermediate Unit #26 receives federal Title II Part A allocations through the Pennsylvania Department of Education to service specific nonpublic schools. The federal dollars must be used to provide professional development services to the nonpublic schools that generate the allocations. Services are determined by and agreed upon via consultation between the Intermediate Unit and the nonpublic schools. Through consultation with the Independence Mission Schools, it was determined that the 2015- 16 Title II Part A dollars generated by one of the Independence Mission Schools should by used to continue professional development.

During the 2015-16 academic year, Independence Mission schools (IMS) is implementing a training and coaching model for school leaders and teachers. Currently, Jounce Partners, Inc. has an approved $15,000 LCA to implement the Jounce model for training school leaders and coaching teachers. IMS plans to expand implementation of the Jounce model to an additional school that will put the total not to exceed amount for the vendor over the LCA limit.

Jounce Partners, Inc. will provide weekly embedded coaching sessions for teachers and leadership teams with highly effective instructional strategies to increase student achievement.

ABC Code/Funding Source $11,025.00 207X-G10-9610-2272-3291 Title II A

APPS Analysis: More money being spent on outside professional development. Again, teachers are much more effective when they were able to spend their prep time actually preparing engaging lessons rather than covering classes because the district refuses to clean up the mess caused by the outsourcing of substitutes. We will be keeping eyes open for more Jounce involvement in Philadelphia. Jounce has close with TFA and KIPP—two branch of the corporate education tree.