by Karel Kilimnik
Community Engagement or Community Exclusion?
We have heard a lot about the importance of community involvement from Superintendent William Hite and his staff. Dr. Hite has expanded the Family and Community Engagement (FACE) Office, spoken of the need for “customer relations” (meaning parents, who are not customers but stakeholders), and created “Focus Groups” for his Priority Schools Initiative In fact, Dr. Hite wrote an op-ed for the Philadelphia Inquirer lastweek beseeching the community to “come together” to solve the problem of crumbling, moldy buildings that the district has ignored for years. Yet Dr. Hite continues to pursue his corporate reform-driven plans behind closed doors.
In the struggle to save Strawberry Mansion High School, the district’s two-faced dealings with the public has reached a new low. The district’s hollow claims of community involvement have been exposed by a group of people determined to thwart plans to close the comprehensive high school and replace educators with vendors. Parents, students, alumni and community members have shown up to speak out at SRC meetings, attended the City’s Listening Tour for new school board members, and contacted City Council members. A commentary on the subject by APPS member Ken Derstine was published in the Philadelphia Public School Notebook.
In late March, Dr. Hite sent Assistant Superintendent Eric Becoats to SMHS to lead a community meeting, which was well attended despite poor outreach from the district. In answer to a question from the audience, Becoats admitted that the district’s plans had already moved into the “implementation stage”, thus skipping any planning stage in which stakeholders could add their own perspectives or objections. This meeting’s resolutions draw attention to changes in the mission and future of Strawberry Mansion—at the same time raising even more questions. Resolution B-15 sends money to one vendor for an alternative education program, while the (B-17) Culinary grant includes Mansion despite the fact that the district has left the Culinary Arts teacher position vacant this year. Dr Hite claims that under-enrollment at SMHS accounts for his closing the comprehensive high school (without actually admitting that this is a school closure). If there are so few young people in the neighborhood, why has the district opened a new high school?
Note that nearby Robert Vaux High School was closed by the SRC in 2013 due to under-enrollment, then reopened in 2017 as a contract school under the management of Big Picture. A flyer appeared on the SMHS website announcing future plans for the school. No 9thgraders will be admitted, although “…current students can continue and graduate from Strawberry Mansion High School”. For unexplained reasons, enrollment of 9thgraders will resume in 2019 for a project-based high school.
The district selected a small group of SMHS community members to visit The Workshop School in West Philadelphia in an attempt to persuade them to endorse the district plan. The Workshop School has 240 students (less than SMHS), and despite Great School Philly’s projection of an enrollment of 500 by 2015/16, that school is under no threat of closure due to under-enrollment. There has been a systematic erosion of services, staff, and resources in district comprehensive high schools. Feeder schools have been shuttered, thus forcing displacement of students across the city or into charter schools. Bok, Germantown High School, Carroll, University High School, Vaux, Stephen A. Douglas High School, and Lamberton High School were among the twenty-four schools closed by the SRC in 2013. This policy of closing schools comes directly out of the 2012 Boston Consulting Group Report, paid for with private money and kept secret from the public.
Spring is rerun season for TV viewers—and favored school district vendors. Both The New Teacher Project (TNTP) (Resolution B-8) and Jounce Partners(B-13) return to feed at the public trough. No matter that the district has yet to provide data showing that either program has benefitted students.
The district is awarding a $20 million contract to the Chester County Intermediate Unity to oversee the Philadelphia Virtual Academy (B-3) over the next three years. Why does a virtual school—without the same costs as a brick-and-mortar school—need an additional $6.6 million every year? Enrollment is currently at 462 students, there are no SPRs, no data. Will Dr. Hite explain why the virtual school has suddenly become so expensive—and why the district has to outsource to another district to manage it?
The Philadelphia School Partnership (PSP) continues its financial support of schools of its choosing, this time with a $116, 000 grant to Science Leadership Academy Middle for two more teachers. Multi-million dollar renovations slated for both Motivation High School and Roosevelt ES (A19) both raise questions about the co-location of Motivation with the KIPP West Philadelphia Preparatory CS and will hopefully provide some relief for the beleaguered Roosevelt School community. There is an ongoing issue of Our Schools Are Not Charities as staff is hired at Parkway West (B1) and money allocated to the Fund for the SDP for a staff position (A9).
For this meeting, there are 53 Resolutions which send $34,381,750 to vendors and contractors including TNTP, Jounce, One Bright Ray, and the Chester County Intermediate Unit.
The toxicity of our schools has been exposed in the recent Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News series “Toxic City: Sick Schools Hidden Perils”. It is truly horrifying to read about all of the poisons both growing children and school staff have been exposed to for so many years. This is not a new story; theNotebookhas been reporting on sick school buildings for years.
Instead of sending $34 million to outside agencies for unproven or redundant programs, why not use that money to fix our schools and create a healthier environment for everyone?
Resolutions of Note
Categorical/Grant Fund: $160,000 Acceptance of Grant from the Philadelphia School Partnership
RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to accept a grant from the Philadelphia School Partnership, if awarded, of up to $160,000, to fund two full-time teaching positions at Science Leadership Academy Middle School, for the period commencing July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019.
Description: The School District of Philadelphia has been working with the Philadelphia School Partnership to support the opening of Science Leadership Academy Middle School (SLAMS), an inquiry- based School District middle school.
The Philadelphia School Partnership is providing a grant from its Great Schools Fund to support the unique inquiry-driven, project-based, technology-enabled academic program at SLAMS. This grant will help support salary and benefits for certain staff positions and allow for slightly reduced class loads for teachers tasked with building curriculum for the academic program at SLAMS. The funding is allocated at the conclusion of each academic year and is contingent upon the completion of successful achievement of projected outcomes as listed in the grant agreement.
This project aligns with the School District’s Action Plan 3.0 by providing an active partnership among the School District, foundations, community organizations, local universities and colleges, community groups and others to create educationally and socially vibrant programs and interior and outdoor spaces at schools throughout the School District.
APPS Analysis: PSP has been funding SLAMS since its inceptionin 2012; the school opened in 2016 SLAMS has received almost $2.5 million from outside donors, most of that from PSP. That figure also includes a $ 149,154 donation from Inquiry Schools, the non-profit started by SLA Founder and now-CEO Chris Lehmann. PSP has been donating $160,000 for the past two years to pay for additional staff positions. Has PSP made a commitment to fund SLAMS indefinitely? This illustrates the problem with treating our schools like charities, dependent on the generosity of donors. Not every school has access to this kind of money, thus creating an unequal system of resource distribution. How does this create a district based on equity, one of Dr. Hite’s Action 3.0 tenets?
Public Schools Are Not Charities
Operating Budget: $200,000 Amendment of Contract with The Fund for The School District 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 0071/F16, originally entered into with Fund for the School District of Philadelphia, pursuant to Resolution No. A-21, approved by the School Reform Commission on March 19, 2015, and previously amended pursuant to Resolution No. A-74, approved by the School Reform Commission on June 16, 2016, by increasing the amount of the contract by an additional $200,000 from the $640,000 authorized by previous Resolutions, to an amount not to exceed $840,000, to fund the executive director position, which directs The Fund’s strategic fundraising activities with the philanthropic community and private donors.
Description: The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia is part of a national initiative to build public-private partnerships that strengthen public education in our country’s major urban areas through private sector support. Founded in 2003 as Philadelphia Children’s First Fund, the mission is to serve as a vehicle for generating, directing, and managing private philanthropic resources to respond to the needs and goals of the School District of Philadelphia and to create innovative opportunities for promoting student achievement. The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia as it is currently known since it reorganized in 2015, is the official not-for profit entity for the School District of Philadelphia. The partners are private foundations, corporations and businesses, and individual donors.
APPS Analysis: If the Fund’s purpose is to raise money for the school district, why are the taxpayers being asked to put money INTO the Fund? The full amount approved by the SRC from June 2016 until now, for the purpose of paying the Fund’s director, is $840,000. What the resolution does not make clear is the actual yearly salary of the director. Some history: PCFF was established in 2003, when Paul Vallas was CEO and James Nevels was SRC Chair. Its stated mission was to “facilitate individual and organizational giving to create a permanent source of philanthropic capital to the School District of Philadelphia, its leaders, its teachers, and its students.”
In 2011, under the watch of then-Mayor Michael Nutter, anonymous donors raised over $400,000 in an attempt to buy out former Superintendent Arlene Ackerman’s contract; that money was funneled through PCFF. PCCF then morphed into The Fund for the School District, whose meetings are not open to the public. Why isn’t the Fund able to raise money to fund its own executive director position? Why does the District rely on this private-public “partnership” where control of school projects increasingly moves out of public oversight and into the private sector? Year after year of austerity budgets have seen school programs become increasingly dependent upon outside corporate and foundation sources. Some school communities have very active Home and School or Friends Of organizations that are capable of raising large sums of money, while others can barely get parents and community to participate in school events. As Lisa Haver pointed out in her 2016 Philadelphia Public Schools Notebook Commentary on the Fund, “Its 17-member board is made up of representatives from banking, energy, cable, financial investment, and consulting businesses — and two educators. ‘Investors’ include GlaxoSmithKline, Wells Fargo, and the Barra, Carnegie and Lenfest Foundations
Will the new school board continue to allow decisions about funding for public schools to be made by boards of private organizations, or will they return that power to the actual stakeholders—students, parents and community members?
Categorical/Grant Fund: $118,000 Acceptance of Grant from Philadelphia Academies, Inc. – Additional Early Childhood Education Teacher at Parkway West High School
RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to accept with appreciation, if awarded, a grant from the Philadelphia Academies, Inc., for an amount not to exceed $118,000, to pay for an additional Early Childhood Education teacher at Parkway West High School for the period commencing July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019.
Description: This resolution seeks authorization to accept, if awarded, a grant from Philadelphia Academies, Inc. valued up to $118, 000 to provide an additional Early Childhood Education teacher at Parkway West High School. The Early Childhood Education program at Parkway West High School officially launched in the fall of 2017 and consists of a three-year course of study (10th — 12th grades) that follows an initial Freshman Seminar experience and incorporates summer internship opportunities.
To support Early Childhood Education career pathways, The School District of Philadelphia has been partnering with Philadelphia Academies, Inc.to provide the following program services and supports:
– Technical assistance and support for school leadership and teachers in program planning, curriculum development, and strategic direction
– Leadership and management of Experience in Education Summer Internship Program, including recruiting students, securing and maintaining relationships with worksite partners, and leading professional development sessions
– Organizing work-based learning extension activities throughout the school year with program partners and outside industry partners, post-secondary institutions, and community organizations
– Supporting development and oversight of School Year Internship program, including finding and maintaining relationships with worksite partners
– Curriculum development and support for the thematic Freshman Seminar course, including integrating Freshman Seminar course topics, supporting implementation, and evaluating course progress and results – Working with graduating students to help them access opportunities for further study, including Dual Enrollment and post-secondary educational options programs more closely with the Parkway West program
– Securing funding through grant support to cover costs associated with instructional personnel for the 2018-2019 school year, textbooks, work-based learning activities, and summer internship program
Through an agreement with the Office of Career and Technical Education (CTE), this grant includes funding for a second CTE teacher position in the Early Childhood Education Program for year two of the programs roll-out (SY 2018-2019).
APPS Analysis:Unfortunately this is a question we pose in almost every edition of Eyes – what happens when the funding ends? Does this position also disappear or is there scrambling to find another non-profit to restore this staff position? We need steady, reliable, and equitable funding to sustain all of our schools, not a select few. Everyone should be involved in the fight to secure this funding stream lobbying our legislators from the city to the state. We all need to be relentless warriors for the money our schools need. We need a School Board that will stand with us as we travel to Harrisburg to urge our legislators for an equitable funding formula.
Capital Fund: $23,445,288 Capital Awards II – General, Mechanical, Plumbing and Electrical Contracts – Retaining Wall Repair and Major Renovations
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 the lowest responsible bidders: Murphy Quigley Company for Retaining Wall Repairs at the Robert Blair Pollock Elementary School, Smith Construction; Allstates Mechanical, Ltd.; Dolan Mechanical, Inc.; Hyde Electric Corporation; Delta/BSI Construction, LLC.; PT Mechanical Group, LLC; Carolina Plumbing & Heating, Inc. and Mulhern Electric Company for Major Renovations at Motivation High School and the Roosevelt Middle School, for an aggregate amount not to exceed $23,445,288, for the period commencing May 18, 2018 through completion of the projects.
Description: Spec: B-002 C General Contract – Retaining Wall Repairs of 2017/18 Robert Blair Pollock Elementary School – 2875 Welsh Road *Murphy Quigley Company, Inc. – $747,610.00 GSB Building, One Belmont Avenue
Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania 19004
This contract covers the labor, material, and equipment necessary to repair the retaining wall at this location. The work includes: removal and replacement of unsuitable fill behind the wall, the addition of a new reinforced concrete key to the toe of the wall, concrete crack and spall repairs, removal and replacement of approximately 85 LF of failed wall with a cantilever reinforced concrete retaining wall, replacement of chain link fence at top of wall to match existing, removal and replacement of failed storm water sewer and inlets that extend behind the existing retaining wall, removal of playground equipment, trees, play surfaces, utilities, fencing and surfaces. The Facilities Condition Index (FCI) at this location is 34.90%. The School Progress Report (SPR) at this location is 54.
The bids for this project were publicly advertised on 3/1/2018, 3/6/2018, and 3/8/2018 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 met the technical and construction specifications. Bids were publicly opened on 4/3/2018. After review of the bids and a de-scoping meeting it was determined that Murphy Quigley Company, Inc. was the lowest responsible bidder with a bid of $747,610.00.
Spec: B-014 C General Contract – Major Renovation of 2017/18 Motivation High School – 5900 Baltimore Avenue
*Smith Construction – $8,342,000.00 2708 Commerce Way, Suite 203 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19154
This contract covers the general construction labor, material, and equipment necessary for the major renovation at this location. The work includes: environmental remediation, site demolition and new site work, new main entry structure consisting of perforated metal fence and gate, concrete porticoand signage, masonry restoration, selective repair of existing roof, replacement of exterior window systems, refurbished elevator, new inclined platform lifts and new wheelchair lifts, selective removal and replacement of wood doors in existing hollow metal frames, refinishing of existing hollow metal doors and frames, new door hardware, interior masonry work, removal and replacement of ACT ceilings, new suspended cloud ceilings in auditorium, toilet partitions and toilet accessories, selective refurbishment and or replacement of existing lockers, millwork and casework, auditorium equipment including new stage curtain rigging, projector and refurbishment of chairs, operable partition in Gym, replacement of visual display boards, new fume hood, interior finishes, new window shades and room signage. The Facilities Condition Index (FCI) at this location is 35.67%. The School Progress Report (SPR) at this location is 61.
The bids for this project were publicly advertised on 2/26/2018, 3/3/2018, and 3/5/2018 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 met the technical and construction specifications. Bids were publicly opened on 4/3/2018. After review of the bids and a de-scoping meeting it was determined that Smith Construction was the lowest responsible bidder with a bid of $8,342,000.00.
Spec: B-015 C Mechanical Contract – Major Renovation of 2017/18 Motivation High School – 2555 South 78th Street
*Allstates Mechanical, Ltd. – $3,869,000.00 1602 Conchester Highway
Boothwyn, Pennsylvania 19061
This contract covers the mechanical labor, material, and equipment necessary for the major renovation at this location. The work includes: removal and replacement of boilers, boiler breeching, pumps, air handing units and associated duct work, unit ventilators, cabinet unit heaters, fin-tube radiators, electric duct heaters, DX split system heat pumps, exhaust fans, relief air fans, supply diffusers, valves, controls, testing and balancing. The Facilities Condition Index (FCI) at this location is 35.67%. The School Progress Report (SPR) at this location is 61.
The bids for this project were publicly advertised on 2/26/2018, 3/3/2018, and 3/5/2018 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 met the technical and construction specifications. Bids were publicly opened on 4/3/2018. After review of the bids and a de-scoping meeting it was determined that Allstates Mechanical, Ltd. was the lowest responsible bidder with a bid of $3,869,000.00.
Spec: B-016 C Plumbing Contract – Major Renovation of 2017/18
Motivation High School – 5900 Baltimore Avenue
*Dolan Mechanical, Inc. – $267,000.00 638 Johnson Road
Sicklerville, New Jersey 08081
This contract covers the plumbing labor, material, equipment necessary for the major renovation at this location. The work includes: selective plumbing fixture demolition, selective new plumbing fixtures including toilets, urinals, drinking fountains, lavatories, sinks, shower heads and eyewash. New acid neutralization tanks at science lab sinks, new domestic water heaters, new circulating pump and new exterior hose bibs. The Facilities Condition Index (FCI) at this location is 35.67%. The School Progress Report (SPR) at this location is 61.
The bids for this project were publicly advertised on 2/26/2018, 3/3/2018, and 3/5/2018 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 met the technical and construction specifications. Bids were publicly opened on 3/29/2018. After review of the bids and a de-scoping meeting it was determined that Dolan Mechanical, Inc. was the lowest responsible bidder with a bid of $267,000.00.
Spec: B-017 C Electrical Contract – Major Renovation of 2017/18 Motivation High School – 5900 Baltimore Avenue
*Hyde Electric Corporation – $2,810,000.00 3441 Bowman Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19129
This contract covers the electrical labor, material, and equipment necessary for the major renovation at this location . The work includes: demolition of electrical equipment including lighting, lighting controls, mechanical equipment disconnects and electrical connections, new 100A panel boards, interior and exterior lighting fixtures and controls, electrical and data outlets, new telecom bonding and grounding equipment, new data cables, connectors and horizontal cabling components, new master clock system, and new security cameras integrated with the existing CCTV system. The Facilities Condition Index (FCI) at this location is 35.67%. The School Progress Report (SPR) at this location is 61.
The bids for this project were publicly advertised on 2/26/2018, 3/3/2018, and 3/5/2018 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 met the technical and construction specifications. Bids were publicly opened on 3/29/2018. After review of the bids and a de-scoping meeting it was determined that Hyde Electric Corporation was the lowest responsible bidder with a bid of $2,810,000.00.
Spec: B-800 C General Contract – Major Renovation
Theodore Roosevelt Middle School – 430 East Washington Lane
*BSI Construction, LLC – $5,969,000.00 735 Birch Avenue
Bensalem, Pennsylvania 19020
This contract covers the general construction labor, material, and equipment for the major renovation at this location. The work includes: asbestos abatement, masonry repair and restoration, steel lintels, miscellaneous metal work, ladders and rails, etc., interior and exterior finishes, thermal and moisture protection systems, roofing, gutters, flashing, and scuppers, wood and steel doors, door frames, door hardware, steel stud and drywall construction, casework and laboratory casework, painting, building signage, building specialties, window treatments, modernization of one 2500 lb. capacity geared traction elevator, concrete sidewalks, grading adjustments, exterior stair repairs, aluminum railings, ADA parking will be relocated, decorative steel fence and gates. The Facilities Condition Index (FCI) at this location is 58.08%. The School Progress Report (SPR) at this location is 20
The bids for this project were publicly advertised on 2/20/2018, 2/25/2018, and 2/27/2018 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 met the technical and construction specifications. Bids were publicly opened on 4/5/2018. After review of the bids and a de-scoping meeting it was determined that BSI Construction, LLC was the lowest responsible bidder with a bid of $5,969,000.00.
Spec: B-801 C Mechanical Contract – Major Renovation of 2016/17 Theodore Roosevelt Middle School – 430 East Washington Lane
*PT Mechanical Group, LLC – $219,752.00 215 Executive Drive
Moorestown, NJ 08057
This contract covers the mechanical labor, material, and equipment necessary for the major renovation at this location. The work includes: new split systems and all appurtenances for elevator machine room, new exhaust fans and ductwork in existing and new toilet rooms, window units in administrative offices and computer classroom, new curbs on existing units, rescuer relief hoods on gym roof, condensing unit mounted on the roof, and 44×24 louver with smoke damper to serve the elevator shaft. The Facilities Condition Index (FCI) at this location is 58.08%. The School Progress Report (SPR) at this location is 20.
The bids for this project were publicly advertised on 2/20/2018, 2/25/2018, and 2/27/2018 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 met the technical and construction specifications. Bids were publicly opened on 4/5/2018. After review of the bids and a de-scoping meeting it was determined that PT Mechanical Group, LLC was the lowest responsible bidder with a bid of $219,752.00.
Spec: B-802 C Plumbing Contract – Major Renovation
Theodore Roosevelt Middle School – 430 East Washington Lane
*Carolina Plumbing & Heating, Inc. (M) – $90,000.00 4014 Balwynne Park Rd
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19131
This contract covers the plumbing labor, material and equipment for the major renovation at this location. The work includes: selective removal and replacement of existing fixtures, copper cold water piping, insulation of domestic water piping, trench and backfill for new sanitary pipe, shut off valves, stainless steel laboratory sinks, replacement of all PVC roof drain leaders with cast iron, roof drains, and elevator sump pump with plastic liner and spoil cover. The Facilities Condition Index (FCI) at this location is 58.08%. The School Progress Report (SPR) at this location is 20.
The bids for this project were publicly advertised on 2/20/2018, 2/25/2018, and 2/27/2018 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 met the technical and construction specifications. Bids were publicly opened on 4/5/2018. After review of the bids and a de-scoping meeting it was determined that Carolina Plumbing & Heating, Inc. was the lowest responsible bidder with a bid of $90,000.00.
Spec: B-803 C Electrical Contract – Major Renovation of 2016/17 Theodore Roosevelt Middle School – 430 East Washington Lane *Mulhern Electric Company, Inc.- $1,130,926.00
1828 Eckard Avenue
P. O. Box #256
Abington, Pennsylvania 19001
This contract covers the electrical labor, material, and equipment for the major renovation at this location. The work includes: three-pole disconnect switch and connection to interior split system of the elevator, Type 3R safety switch and final connection to condensing unit, enclosed circuit breaker for elevator controller, new feeder conduit and conductors from new disconnecting means in main distribution panel to new ECB, circuit breaker for elevator cab lights, new branch circuit wiring as indicated, (2) new light fixtures in the elevator machine room, and new pit lighting and outlet devices. The Facilities Condition Index (FCI) at this location is 58.08%. The School Progress Report (SPR) at this location is 20.
The bids for this project were publicly advertised on 2/20/2018, 2/25/2018, and 2/27/2018 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 met the technical and construction specifications. Bids were publicly opened on 4/5/2018. After review of the bids and a de-scoping meeting it was determined that Mulhern Electric Company, Inc. was the lowest responsible bidder with a bid of $1,130,926.00.
APPS Analysis: First, a disclaimer: We have been in touch with SRC staff to question whether 2555 S. 78thstreet is the correct address for Motivation High School. All district materials indicate that the school is located at 5900 Baltimore Avenue. SRC staff told us that they are working to insert the 5900 Baltimore Avenue address, as this is the correct one. However, on some of these listed contracts they continue to list the wrong address. Motivation High School has been co-located with the KIPP West Philadelphia Preparatory Charter School since 2013. In New York City, it is not uncommon for charter and district schools to co-locate and share a building; in Philadelphia, this is the only co-location—so far. Over $15 million of renovations is now being allotted for Motivation High School. The auditorium and gym are designated as areas to be renovated. Are these shared with KIPP or are they separate?
Over $7 million is slated for renovations at Roosevelt Middle School in Germantown.
The SRC has put Roosevelt through the wringer in the past five years. In 2013, the current administration shuttered twenty-four schools, including Robert Fulton Elementary in central Germantown. Then-Acting SRC Chair Wendell Pritchett issued assurances that there would still be an elementary school in that neighborhood, and in a last minute move, took Roosevelt Middle School off of the closure list and converted it to a K-8 elementary. Roosevelt is not in central Germantown, so the former Fulton students had to travel to another neighborhood. The District changed the school grade configuration without adapting the building to the needs of its younger students. In 2016 Roosevelt underwent yet another transition, as noted in Lisa Haver’s Philadelphia Daily News op-ed:
“The original Theodore Roosevelt Junior High (grades 7, 8 and, 9) in East Germantown became a middle school (grades 6, 7 and 8) in the late 1980s. The district slated it for closure in 2013 until community members protested losing it, along with nearby Germantown High and Fulton Elementary. The SRC made a last-minute decision to convert it to a K-8, but, with no resources provided for transition, the school’s academic and behavioral troubles have risen.”
Just last week Channel 6 reported on the disgusting conditions at Roosevelt. Students and teachers spoke about the serious vermin infestation and mold throughout the building—mice scampering across classroom floors and gnawing pencil cases, leaking pipes and moldy walls. Hopefully this resolution will put an end to all of this.
Shouldn’t Cyber Schools Cost Less—Not More?
Academic – Contracts/Payments
B-3 (Updated 5.3.18)
Operating Budget: $20,000,000 Contract with Chester County Intermediate Unit – Philadelphia Virtual Academy
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 Chester County Intermediate Unit, to provide online educational services and supports for students enrolling in Philadelphia Virtual Academy, for a total amount not to exceed $20,000,000 for the period commencing July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2021, with options to extend the contracts for two additional years through June 30, 2023, with those extensions shall be based on satisfactory terms and conditions and subject to approval by the School Reform Commission.
Description:The purpose of this resolution is to authorize the School District of Philadelphia to enter into a contract for FY 2018 with external providers to perform the necessary services to provide online schooling for fiscal years 2019 through 2022 based on selection from the competitive bid process Request for Proposals 579.
In SY 2013-14, the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) established its own online school, the Philadelphia Virtual Academy (PVA), serving students in grades sixth through twelfth to participate as fully-matriculated public Middle and High School students in courses aligned with Pennsylvania Department of Education standards and School District of Philadelphia’s required curriculum. These online courses are considered equivalent to and credited in the same manner as classroom instruction offered in the District’s traditional schools. PVA ensures that courses remain available online and at the facilities for student instruction at least 180 days per academic year. Courses are enrolled on a first-come- first-served basis regardless of students’ race, disability status, gender, national origin, religion, or sexual orientation.
Services are include, but are not limited to:
- – Online Teachers – Highly Qualified Teacher (HQT) and Pennsylvania Certified Teachers
- – Best in Breed online curriculum
- – Course offerings that meet The School District of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Department of Education requirements for graduation
- – Face-to-face interaction
- – On-site staff to manage Academic Support Centers
PVA has established a rigorous orientation process in order to fully prepare newly enrolled students in navigating the unique systems and supports involved in our online education program. The in-person, three-day orientation allows students to better understand how online education works and incorporates a series of checkpoints and tests that allow for appropriate course level registration. The students then move on from physical orientation through a tiered process of online orientation that allows those who demonstrate success to earn more control over their academic decisions like daily scheduling and course choices, while at the same time providing any necessary academic or time management supports for students who are struggling with the online model.
After a student successfully completes orientation, they are transitioned to their grade-level Advisor and every morning they are required to attend a regularly scheduled online homeroom. This daily engagement piece provides time for daily troubleshooting, keeping the students on track through progress monitoring and also allows for the dissemination of key updates and deadlines. Advisors use this homeroom to develop trust with the students and as a vehicle to set up additional meetings with specific students in order provide them with any necessary supports based on their individual needs.
Students who fail to check in during homeroom and/or are are identified as struggling or falling behind are enrolled in a Synchronous Scheduling Program, that puts the students in a more synchronous time- managed environment from 9AM to 3PM on a daily basis. This program can last for weeks or months depending on the student and can be combined in conjunction with online or face to face tutoring opportunities to support their academic needs. PVA has established many avenues of academic support to fit the needs of our student population whether they are “as needed” online 1 to 1 sessions with their teacher available everyday from 8AM to 8PM in our Virtual Office or daily small group face to face tutoring sessions held in our Academic Support rooms. We also have a multi-tiered level of supplemental programming in both Math and Reading.
If a student still fails to keep up with regular attendance and/or falls further behind in their academic progress, they can be recommended for our Re-Engagement Program. This program is run by the Orientation/Re-Engagement Advisor and is an in-person, week long re-orientation program designed to identify and support their specific educational barriers and get them back on track. After the conclusion of the re-orientation period the student continues with more intensive online supports and check-ins over the course of the next few weeks, before being returned to working with their regular Grade-level Advisor.
In addition to a system of programming supports, PVA has cultivated a wide level of socialization programs in order to afford students the opportunity to interact with their peers. Besides the many student driven activities (I.E. Year Book Committee, Prom Committee, Class Officers, Student Ambassadors, Chess Club, Writing Club) PVA has established many community Partnerships that have led to wealth of programming opportunities for our students; Student Docent Program (Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts), Sounds of Learning Program (Opera Education/Opera Philly and the Annenberg Foundation), Studio Production Program (PSTV Studio and SDP), StampPass Philly (Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance), Advance at College (Community College of Philadelphia), Accent on Dance (Pennsylvania Ballet), iCouldbe Online Mentoring Program (Accenture of Philadelphia), Enhanced Vocational Internship Program (Finishing Trades Institute and SDP CTE).
Request for Proposals (RFP) 579 sought providers that could meet the virtual instructional and on-site management needs of up to two thousand (2,000) students in sixth through twelfth grade, and included managing the one-to-one technology program that is a central component of the PVA model. Additional key priorities when identifying eligible providers included: (1) ability to attract and serve diverse student populations ¿ including English Language Learners, students with disabilities and students who are performing below grade level with: instruction that is engaging, interactive, and authentic and course offerings that align with the SDP graduation requirements; (2) capacity to provide staff support to students ¿as needed¿ through both virtual as well as face to face environments; (3) an online accountability structure, in which data are gathered, organized, and disseminated for effective decision making; and (4) equitable access to necessary technology.
RFP 579 was released on January 17, 2018; vendor responses were due on February 13, 2018. The District only received one proposal, which was from Chester County Intermediate Unit. A panel of 4 educators from The School District of Philadelphia reviewed the Chester County Chester County Intermediate Unit proposal, received in response to RFP 579. Each evaluator signed confidentiality statements. The proposal was read and evaluated in a closed and secure environment at District headquarters. The evaluative method for the proposal was qualitative. Each evaluator completed an evaluation form electronically. The panel of 4 educators chose Chester County Intermediate Unit as the provider to implement the services necessary to support the continuation of the online school. In addition to the review panel, the Office of Small Business Development evaluated the proposal to ensure that minority and woman-owned business enterprise (M/WBE) participation plans met or exceeded District guidelines.
APPS Analysis: In 2013, the district launched The Philadelphia Virtual Academy (PVA), seeking to attract families who wanted to try a cyber school experience. PVA announced there would be drop-in learning centers across the city. There is no indication on the website that this has happened. The sole drop-in center appears to be at 440. The only factual information found is from a 2015 Notebook article in which the principal stated that although the number of students fluctuates during the school year, there were eighteen teachers for core subjects and five teaching assistants “who serve as go-betweens with the students, teachers, parents, and administration.” The school “opened” in 2013 with 65 students and has expanded to the 462 according to the school’s website:
What can’t be found anywhere on the district’s website is any data on the school—no SPR, SPP, etc. Great Schools Philly, the guide created by Philadelphia School Partnership, expresses concerns over academic performance of students at PVA, acknowledging that “[T]est scores at this school fall far below the state average. This suggests that students at this school are likely not performing at grade level.” Given this limited information, why is the district spending $6.6 million on an annual basis to support this school? Show us the data that shows PVA worthy of a $20 million investment of limited district funds. Also missing from the resolution is an explanation of why the district has to outsource all functions of the school to the Chester County Intermediate Unit.
Strawberry Mansion Plan Implemented Without Stakeholder Input or Endorsement
Operating Budget: $13,050,000 Amendment of Contract with International Education and Community Initiatives (dba One Bright Ray, Inc.) – Alternative Education Programs
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. 0917/F17, originally entered into with International Education and Community Initiatives (d/b/a One Bright Ray, Inc.) pursuant to Resolution No. B-4, approved by the School Reform Commission on April 27, 2017 by increasing the dollar amount of the contract by an additional $13,050,000.00 from the $42,800,000.00 approved in Resolution B-4, to an amount not to exceed $55,850,000.00.
Description: This resolution seeks authorization for the School District of Philadelphia to enter into a contract amendment with International Education and Community Initiatives d/b/a One Bright Ray, Inc. One Bright Ray, Inc. (OBR) was awarded a contract to operate Accelerated high school programs via the competitive bid process Request for Proposals 520. The School Reform Commission approved the contract with OBR in Resolution No. B-4 dated April 27, 2017. This resolution seeks to add 400 seats to Accelerated programs that are managed by OBR so that more students can return to education and earn their high school diplomas. The additional seats will provide 200 students with an Accelerated program during the day, as well as 200 seats for students who need an evening school option for Accelerated programming. These 400 Accelerated seats will be housed at Strawberry Mansion High School, which would expand quality school options for that North Philadelphia neighborhood. There are 1,200 who live in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood who attend accelerated programs in other parts of the city. Accelerated programs educate high school students who are overage and under-credited, disconnected from school, or struggling in a traditional school setting. These programs use staff and resources in flexible ways to accelerate student skills growth, credit accumulation, and postsecondary readiness. Accelerated programs support the School District of Philadelphia’s Action Plan 3.0, Anchor Goal 1: “100% of students will graduate, ready for college and career”. If approved, this resolution would expand school options for students who are struggling in school or those who are seeking to return to education.
APPS Analysis: Despite pushback from the organized Strawberry Mansion community and allies, it seems that Dr. Hite is moving along with plans to phase out SMHS as a neighborhood comprehensive high school. In fact, the district has already begun referring to the building as “the Strawberry Mansion Complex”. In his Notebook commentary, APPS member Ken Derstine dissects the district’s justifications for closing Strawberry Mansion. Ken gives a history lesson on how the district has systematically starved schools of resources, then used under-enrollment and low test scores as excuses to close them. SMHS has suffered through many years of shuttered feeder schools, loss of programs, turnover of staff, unfilled teaching positions, and removal of support staff and NTAs. Instead of rebuilding and supporting the school, the Hite administration intends to turn it over to private contractors. Unknown to the community, plans have been underway long before the initial community meeting led by Assistant Superintendent Eric Becoats in March. Despite what seemed to be deliberately inadequate outreach by the district, over fifty people showed up. Becoats finally admitted that this plan was in the implementation stage with no input from parents, students, teachers, neighborhood residents, or community members. Organized opposition to this plan to close the comprehensive high school and turn the building into a warren of private contractors has steadily increased. This resolution identifies one of the vendors being brought in to run at least one of the programs. Years ago, a Twilight School Program operated at SMHS, but it disappeared along with many other programs. Just last year, (Resolution B-4 April 27, 2017) One Bright Ray received a contract “for an amount not to exceed $ 42,800,000 for students at three different sites” for an “alternative education” program in an unnamed school. This resolution represents an expanding of One Bright Ray’s contract by almost 30%. Apparently, the organization’s business in Philadelphia will be expanding by 400 students and an additional location. One has to wonder about the need for increasing accelerated high school programs and ask what has happened to regular daytime high schools that there is such an urgent need for these vendors to provide this service.
More Strawberry Mansion Sleight of Hand
Categorical/Grant Fund: $55,000 Contract with Careers through Culinary Arts Programs, Inc. – Support Services to Career and Technical Education’s Culinary Program
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 Careers through Culinary Arts Program, Inc., to provide curriculum enrichment programming for culinary arts teachers and students at George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Dobbins CTE, Edison, Frankford, Mastbaum, Martin Luther King, Randolph, Strawberry Mansion, Swenson and South Philadelphia High Schools, for an amount not to exceed $55,000, for the period commencing July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019.
Description:Currently, eleven culinary programs exist across District Career and Technical Education high schools. To promote and provide first rate culinary training, meaningful college and career advising, and critical hands-on real real-world experience, the Office of Career and Technical Education (CTE) will contract with Careers through Culinary Arts Program, Inc. (C-CAP).
C-CAP has a long history and successful track record of high-quality programming that prepares underserved youth for careers in the professional culinary industry.
Specifically, C-CAP’s curriculum enrichment programming will include the following:
Teacher Training: C-CAP will provide District culinary teachers with professional development sessions to build teachers’ knowledge and skills to enhance student outcomes, including enhanced Rouxbe video technology provided to each school.
Scholarships and Cooking Competitions: students will have the opportunity to compete in annual C-CAP cooking competitions to win post-secondary school scholarships as part of the largest independent culinary scholarship program in the country.
In addition to the Cooking Competitions, C-CAP conducts recipe competitions during the school year. The students create recipes following specific guidelines. Winners of the recipe competitions receive awards and/or cash scholarships.
Job Training & Internships: Students will engage in job shadowing, job readiness training and internships to enhance work skills and on-the-job experience. C-CAP will conduct a job training workshop at the end of the school year to prepare interested and qualified students for summer internships. C-CAP places the students who successfully complete the job training workshop in summer jobs where they work for a minimum of six weeks, a minimum of 35 hours per week and earn at least minimum wage. Weekly meetings with the interns are conducted by C-CAP to support their efforts in the workplace.
Career Advising: Ongoing career counseling is available to build students’ awareness of opportunities and help alumni progress in their careers. C-CAP students will have access to Culinary Agents, a job search, job matching and networking website designed by a technology expert and inspired by a C-CAP graduate. C-CAP students have a special designation on this website.
College Advising: College and career advisors work with all scholarship winners to ensure their success in school and in the industry.
Product Donations: C-CAP will solicit product donations from various manufacturers/businesses and monitor distribution of donations to the schools. Previous donations have included high quality Belgian chocolate, flour, olive oil, almonds, cheese, pasta, and smallwares.
Materials: Competition applications, recipes and guidelines will be provided by C-CAP. In addition, the awards program and awards certificates will be provided by C-CAP. Competition ingredients will be provided by C-CAP. Materials for teachers’ professional development and students’ job training and “College 101” will be provided by C-CAP.
APPS Analysis: Strawberry Mansion High School is included in this grant. However, they have not had a Culinary Arts teacher in their well-equipped classroom for most of the year. Are there plans to hire a Culinary Arts teacher for the upcoming school year? According to both the Notebook and Great Philly Schools, one of the school’s Points of Pride is its Culinary Program.
Operating Budget: $116,250 Contract with TNTP – PhillyPLUS Residents
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 TNTP for participation in the PhillyPLUS Residents program, for an amount not to exceed $116,250.00, for the period commencing July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019.
Description: PhillyPLUS Residency is a two-year principal certification program for accomplished Philadelphia educators. The program blends intensive summer training and a year of hands-on practice in a local school with support from a mentor principal and leadership coach, who provide ongoing support and guidance. Residents get the support of the personal coach, combined with real experience leading teachers in a local school. They learn how to enter a classroom, assess the quality of lessons, and give teachers concrete feedback and support to improve. Residents who demonstrate success have the opportunity to earn their principal certificate and lead their own Philadelphia school during their second year.
The School District of Philadelphia has participated in the program since 2013 and has since placed over 40 residents in leadership roles at District schools. The residency program provides services to the District that support the recruitment, selection, training and certification of new leaders as a pipeline for future school leaders in the district. Aspiring leaders are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and mindsets to become high quality principals. For SY 2018-2019, TNTP has selected a pool of 15 candidate residents, from which the District will be able to select at least 10 people to serve as PhillyPLUS residents.
APPS Analysis:What can we say about TNTP that we haven’t said before? The New Teacher Project was founded in 1997 by corporate education reformer Michelle Rhee. Its leadership team has little experience in the classroom. TNTP’s research, funded by the Gates Foundation and the Walton Foundation, among others, and on which TNTP bases its teacher and principal training, is questionable at best. (You can read more about TNTP here.) The district contracts out to TNTPto recruit and screen teacher and principal candidates as well as to provide training for aspiring principals in the PhillyPLUS program, funded by both the Philadelphia School Partnership (PSP) and the Gates Foundation.
This lack of experience is also true of the TNTP directors and leadership coaches in the PhillyPLUSprincipal training program that the district uses. Of the nine-member PhillyPLUS team of coaches and directors, six are former Teach for America Corp members with an average of a little over two years teaching experience. Only three team members have had experience as a principal in a public school or charter school; only two of those had more than four years experience as a principal. One coach was the founder of two Rocketship charters, a chain of charters about which questions have been raised concerning the time students spend in front of a computer screen, the student-teacher ratio, disciplinary measures, and student health and safety. Another team member founded a charter school that was closed by the state of NJ for poor performance. Why is the district paying an organization to coach principals that supports the policies that have driven most of the experienced principals out of the school district? How does the District justify such an expense while children sit in unsafe, unhealthy school buildings?
Jounce Bounces Back for More Funding
Categorical/Grant Fund: $43,000 Ratification of Contract with Jounce Partners, Inc. – James G. Blaine Academics Plus School
RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission hereby ratifies the execution, delivery, and performance by the School District of Philadelphia of a contract with Jounce Partners, Inc., to provide professional development and coaching services to teachers at James G. Blaine Academics Plus School for an amount not to exceed $43,000 for the period commencing November 20, 2017 through June 8, 2018.
Description: Jounce Partners Inc. will partner with Blaine school to implement a high frequency teacher training model that will firmly establish teacher expertise in the execution of a core set of high impact teaching skills. Through this partnership, Blaine will continue with its professional development culture and teacher development approach, creating a highly collaborative and highly focused system of instructional feedback and teacher support.
Jounce’s high frequency teacher coaching method is designed to maximize the amount of coaching and feedback that teachers receive, and to focus that feedback on a shared set of priority teaching skills. Through frequent repetition of practice, the Jounce mode builds the muscle memory of teachers to execute effective instructional methods.
Specifically, Jounce will provide the following services:
Direct Teacher Coaching.
A Jounce Partner Inc. will be in Blaine five half-days a week for approximately 25 weeks and four half- days a week for approximately 10 weeks of the school year. The Partner will directly coach half of Blaine’s staff, and work with Blaine to create and implement benchmarks for teacher growth. These sessions will include practice sessions, collaborative teacher development (i.e. PLCs/grade team PD), live modeling, and other forms of real-time coaching.
Weekly Co-Coaching to Develop Instructional Leadership
2 half days every week with instructional leader(s)/teacher leaders. These sessions include coaching practice, coaching with live feedback, and modeling of real-time coaching.
Direct Teacher PD
Three teacher PDs after school/on half days during the year.
Creating and sharing materials to support coaching program, scheduling of coaching, building a culture of practice, and integrating high-rep practice and live modeling into all teacher development structures (i.e. PD, planning meetings, data meetings, etc.)
Curriculum and Assessment Support:
Additional support with curriculum and assessment selection and roll-out, with an emphasis on a) using practice and live-coaching to improve the implementation of chosen curricula and b) using practice and live-coaching to improve teachers data analysis skills and transition from analysis to action.
APPS Analysis:Jounce Partners is an organization that provides a training program for school leaders and schoolteachers in “high-needs schools.” Jounce came into existence in 2012, and has work with existing schools on a partnership basis. Jounce co-founder Paul Dean has little more than three years classroom experience (two as a TFA teacher) before becoming an instructional coach. Most of the other partners have had five years or less. The coaching model developed by Jounce Partners is based on work being done at Relay GSE, Uncommon Schools and the Math Teacher, Paul Barnbrick-Santoyo’s Levering Leadership and Doug Lemov’s Practice Perfect. In other words, it is the philosophy and model of a “no-excuses” school. Local Jounce Partner schools include KIPP West Philadelphia Prep, Belmont Charter School, Wissahickon Charter School and Vare-‐Washington Elementary. Its intensive teacher training is based on a model with scripted and repetitive practices resulting in automatic actions as opposed to thoughtful educational practices and thoughtful learning experiences. Jounce coaches will have teachers line up facing a wall and repeat the same phrase or action over and over again 20 or 30 times. Coaches often correct teachers in from of their students during the frequent classroom observations, eroding teacher autonomy and leadership. A current district teacher who was coached in the program in a Philadelphia charter school for three years has described it as “dehumanizing.”Jounce Partners is an organization whose leaders have little classroom experience, who think teachers can be coached with repetitive scripted practices, and children should be taught in the same manner. Is this really the type of “teaching” we want to inflict on our children?
More $$ for Testing = Less for Classroom Resources
Operating Budget: $1,172,500 Contract with Educational Testing Services – SGS High School Reform Initiative
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 Educational Testing Services (ETS) to provide professional development and coaching services to principals and teachers at five comprehensive high schools, for an amount not to exceed $1,172,500 for the period commencing July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019.
Description:The School District of Philadelphia identified five comprehensive high schools (Overbrook, Samuel Fels, Kensington Health Sciences, Penn Treaty, and Benjamin Franklin) to prioritize to ensure better academic outcomes for all students. These schools
have been low performing for three consecutive years and have a three year School Progress Report (SPR) average equal to or less than 15 out of 100. Resulting from a comprehensive school quality review process and feedback from students, parents, stakeholders, teachers, and community members these five schools will receive added investments and additional resources, based on each school’s specific needs with the goal to create rapid academic improvement to better prepare students for college, career and life.
The Institute for Student Achievement (ISA), a division of Educational Testing Service (ETS), has been identified through RFP-172 as a whole school reform provider. ISA started working with Overbrook, Samuel Fels and Kensington Health Sciences high schools during the 2017-2018 school year and will add Benjamin Franklin and Penn Treaty during the 2018-2019 year to ensure that students who traditionally underperform, graduate prepared for success in college and career.
This vendor was selected on account of their whole-school reform approach that is grounded in research- based principles that are designed to work synergistically to help underperforming schools graduate all students ready for college and careers.
The principles include a college-preparatory instructional program, distributed counseling, continuous professional development, parental involvement and engagement and continuous organizational improvement. This serves as a framework to transform the organizational and educational practices of underperforming schools as well as the culture of the school.
APPS Analysis: Whole school reform is best served by listening to parents, teachers, and students who know what their school needs to improve educational opportunities for students. For the past two years, during every one of the Priority School Focus Group sessions held by either Cambridge Education or Temple University, educators and parents have asked for restoration of staff and programs stripped away by the District. But the district responds by awarding contracts such as this one to ETS/ISA. Not one person, at any school session attended by APPS members, has asked for a vendor to provide coaching or professional development. It would be a tremendous change if this administration chose to listen to those directly affected by their decisions instead of throwing money into the wind. The district already provides its own coaches—why is there a need for more? Stakeholders have clearly said they want money spent on librarians, smaller class size, restoring support staff and fixing up buildings.