full SRC

 By Karel Kilimnik

May 16, 2016

Welcome to the 9th edition of Eyes on the SRC. We continue to shine a light on the SRC resolutions more than ever as both charter school renewals and the Renaissance Charter Program expands. This is a relentless attack on district-run schools that are starved of the necessary resources. The District continues to outsource jobs and services and the SRC approves these transactions.

Last month the SRC voted to table resolutions to renew four charter schools. They do appear again this month. Despite Commissioner Green’s assertion that the District Charter School Office staff are experts, he moved to challenge their recommendations of non-renewal for Aspira’s Olney and Stetson and for Universal’s Audenreid and Vare. Green’s motion to table was based on his claim that the City Comptroller’s office was about to issue its own report on the city’s charter schools. The SRC voted to pass the motion even though the procedure for renewals of Renaissance schools does not, and never has, included any provision for considering any information from any body, internal or external, other than the SRC’s Charter Office. Will the SRC come up with some other excuse to prolong the non-renewal of these four schools at the next Action meeting?

This month’s first Action Meeting is Thursday, May 19th at 5:30 p.m.

Please note that there is a second Action meeting this month: Thursday, May 26 @ 4:30 PM.

To register to speak at either meeting, call 215-400-4180 before 4:30 the day before the meeting.


Click here to read the full list of Resolutions
for the May  19, 2016 School Reform Commission meeting


Selected Resolutions

“Policy Development Service

SRC-5: Operating Budget: $30,000 Contract with Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) – Policy Development Services

RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes the execution, delivery, and performance by the School District of Philadelphia (the “District”), through the Chair of the School Reform Commission (the “SRC”) or her designee, of a contract between the School District of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (“PSBA”) to provide Policy Development Services as outlined in the Proposal for an amount not to exceed $30,000 beginning May 20, 2016 and ending in May 31, 2017.

Description: The Pennsylvania School Boards Association offers a comprehensive Policy Development Service that will develop a Policy Manual reflective of the District’s governance and is based on applicable laws. The policy development process will consist of an in-depth analysis of the existing adopted policies maintained by the District in relation to the requirements of federal and state laws and regulations; the impact of court and arbitration decisions; and recommendations based on governance, liability and educational issues. There are 131 policies.

Specifically, PSBA will:

  • Review, revise and update, as appropriate, current SRC policies;
  • Update draft policies previously prepared by PSBA that were not adopted by the SRC;
  • Prepare new mandated policies and new policies recommended;
  • Conduct onsite visit(s) to meet with designated staff to communicate the procedures and timelines for the Policy Project;
  • Review District’s internal documents such as meeting minutes, handbooks, agreements, and contracts to determine impact on adopted policies;
  • Draft, process and provide electronic delivery of draft policies;
  • Review, edit, and format all intermediary changes of draft policies submitted by the School District; and
  • Review and format final policies adopted by the School Reform Commission

 APPS Comment: We need to see a copy of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA)’s Policy Manual “reflective of the District’s governance …that is based on applicable laws.” For $30,000, the tax paying public should be able to see a copy of this Policy Manual.


 Charter Renewal Resolutions

SRC-6 (Pending)
Application for Charter Renewal – John B. Stetson Charter School; Aspira, Inc. of Pennsylvania

SRC-10
Application for Charter Renewal – Olney Charter High School (Pending)

SRC 11
Application for Charter Renewal – Universal Audenreid Promise Neighborhood Partnership Charter School (Pending)

SRC-13 (Pending)
Application for Charter Renewal – Universal Vare Promise Neighborhood Partnership Charter School

APPS Comment: These non-renewal resolutions for Stetson, Olney, Audenreid, and Vare are posted again after having been tabled last month. Let’s see what the vote is this time, as last month’s meeting showed that the SRC, in particular Commissioner Green, seemed to clutch at any straw to go through with the non-renewals recommended by its own Charter Office. Keep in mind that Aspira still owes the district over $3 million. Commissioner Houston made a point of saying that she did not believe that Aspira’s issues, both financial and academic, could be resolved adequately to merit renewal.


 New Renaissance Charters

SRC-14 (Pending)
Renaissance Schools Initiative: Renaissance Charter School Agreement: Great Oaks Charter at Cooke Elementary

SRC-15 (Pending)
Renaissance Schools Initiative: Renaissance Charter School Agreement: Renaissance Charter School Agreement – John Wister Mastery Charter School

A-36 (Pending)
Renaissance Schools Initiative: Approval of Renaissance Charter School License Agreement with Great Oaks Charter School at Cooke Elementary

A-37 (Pending)
Renaissance Schools Initiative: Approval of Renaissance Charter School License Agreement with John Wister Mastery Charter School

A-38 (Pending)
Renaissance Schools Initiative: Approval of Renaissance Charter School License Agreement with Global Leadership Academy at Huey Charter School

 APPS Comment: Despite months of fighting to save these public schools, this will be the final vote to hand them over to charter companies. (For some reason, the SRC voted separately to approve the applications and the actual management takeover.)

APPS will continue our fight to keep our public schools public. The Notebook just reported that Young Scholars is pulling out of Kenderton Elementary at 15th and Ontario, leaving parents and students wondering what the next step is. Will Young Scholars, who did the same thing to the Douglass students and parents two years ago, be allowed AGAIN to pass the baton to a company of its own choosing—or will the SRC listen to the community ? Will Kenderton parents who want the school to go back to district control have any say?


 Relay “Graduate School”

 A2: Donation: $33,000 Acceptance of Donation from Philadelphia Schools Partnership – Tuition for Relay Graduate School of Education – National Principals Academy Fellowship

RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes the School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to accept, with appreciation, the donation of $33,000.00 from the Philadelphia Schools Partnership to pay for tuition for 6 principals and 2 Assistant Superintendents to attend the Relay Graduate School of Education National Principals Academy Fellowship, for the period commencing May 20, 2016 through June 30, 2017.

Description: Relay GSE has developed the National Principals Academy Fellowship (NAPF), a comprehensive program for school leaders. The School District of Philadelphia has identified a targeted group of 2 Assistant Superintendents and 6 principals to participate in NAFP. The recommended principals hold full-time school leadership positions. The National Principals Academy Fellowship is a 12-credit course focused on instructional and cultural school leadership. The program begins in July 2016 with a 10-day summer intensive in Philadelphia (July 11-22, 2016). Sessions during the summer intensive program will focus on the levers of instructional and cultural leadership, with a foundation of strong instructional pedagogy and content. During the 2016-2017 school year, there will be 4 weekend intersessions to spiral content, support implementation challenges and introduce new content.

APPS Comment: A couple of crucial questions arise here. First, what is Relay Graduate School, and why would certified principals, already chosen as school leaders, need to attend these sessions? And why is the Philadelphia School Partnership fronting the money? Relay GSE was created by KIPP co-founder Dave Levin and Uncommon Schools co-founder Norman Atkins. The purpose of this program can only be to further the pro-charter, anti-teacher agenda of PSP and charter owner/executives.

In addition to the $99,000 already allotted for Relay GSE last month by the SRC, PSP is now giving this grant for $33,000.

There are many local accredited universities with schools of education. What kind of “cultural leadership” skills will district administrators be learning in this program?


 Another PSP Grant

A-4: Donation: $306,210 Acceptance of Grants/$438,885 Acceptance of Donations from the Philadelphia Schools Partnership – Building 21, James Blaine Elementary, and William D. Kelley Elementary Schools

RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes the School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee: (i) to accept with appreciation a grant from the Philadelphia School Partnership of $118,100 to fund salary and benefits for a mathematics certified teaching position at the Building21 High School for the period of July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017; and (ii) to execute, deliver, and perform a grant agreement with the Philadelphia School Partnership and such other documents as necessary to further the intent of this Resolution; 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 a grant from the Philadelphia School Partnership of $89,230 to fund salary and benefits for a Climate Control Specialist position and professional development, assessment materials and analysis and related training and coaching at the James G. Blaine Elementary School for the period of July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017; and (ii) to execute, deliver, and perform a grant agreement with the Philadelphia School Partnership and such other documents as necessary to further the intent of this Resolution; 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 a grant from the Philadelphia School Partnership of $98,980 to fund salary and benefits for a Climate Control Specialist position, professional development, assessment materials and analysis and related training and coaching, facilities improvements, and equipment at the William D. Kelley Elementary School for the period of July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017; and (ii) to execute, deliver, and perform a grant agreement with the Philadelphia School Partnership and such other documents as necessary to further the intent of this Resolution; 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 a grant from the Philadelphia School Partnership of $178,608 to fund leasing costs for two properties for Science Leadership Academy Middle School for the period of July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2018; and (ii) to execute, deliver, and perform a grant agreement with the Philadelphia School Partnership and such other documents as necessary to further the intent of this Resolution; 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 donation from the Philadelphia School Partnership of curricular materials and supplies, City Year support, contracted professional services, professional development (conferences, on-site training, and school visits), progress monitoring tools, and related services and related supports with a total value of approximately $277,938 at the James G. Blaine Elementary School for the period of July 1, 2016 throug June 30, 2017; and (ii) to execute, deliver, and perform a grant agreement with the Philadelphia School Partnership and such other documents as necessary to further the intent of this Resolution; 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 donation from the Philadelphia School Partnership of technology licenses, contracted professional services, progress monitoring tools, and related services and related supports with a total value of approximately $160,947 at the William D. Kelley Elementary School for the period of July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017; and (ii) to execute, deliver, and perform a grant agreement with the Philadelphia School Partnership and such other documents as necessary to further the intent of this Resolution.

Description: The School District of Philadelphia has been working with the Philadelphia School Partnership to support: (i) the opening and expansion of Building21, a new competency-based School District high school; (ii) the transformations of James G. Blaine Elementary School and William D. Kelley Elementary School; and (iii) the opening of Science Leadership Academy Middle School, a new inquiry-based School District middle school. The Philadelphia School Partnership is providing grants and donations from its Great Schools Fund over a three-year period for Building21 High School, James G. Blaine Elementary School, and William D. Kelley Elementary School and a two-year period for Science Leadership Academy Middle School to support these initiatives. 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 resolution relates to the third installment for Building21 High School, James G. Blaine Elementary School, and William D. Kelley Elementary School and the first installment for Science Leadership Academy Middle School.

These grants and donations will help support salary and benefits for certain staff positions, extended learning time (salary and benefits), professional development (conferences, on-site training, and school visits), assessment materials and analysis and related training and coaching, curricular materials and supplies, enrichment programs, technology licenses, City Year support, contracted professional services, facilities improvements, equipment, and related supports for Building21 High School, James G. Blaine Elementary School, and William D. Kelley Elementary School, and the leasing of Ryan Hall at the Dornsife Center, 3509 Spring Garden Street to serve as the main school building and West Philadelphia Community Center, 3512 Haverford Avenue to serve as the gymnasium for Science Leadership Academy Middle School.

This project aligns with The School District of Philadelphia’s Declaration of Education 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.

ABC Code/Funding Source $745,095.00
Philadelphia School Partnership 1 ($118,100.00)
Philadelphia School Partnership 2 ($89,230.00)
Philadelphia School Partnership 3 ($98,980.00)
Philadelphia School Partnership 4 ($277,938.00)
Philadelphia School Partnership 5 ($160,947.00)

 APPS Comment: Think about the implications of one private organization granting the district $745, 195 in just one month ( in addition to the grant for Relay GSE).   Grants from agents of corporate reform, in particular PSP, come with specific mandates for implementation. (See links following this section for more information on PSP and Innovative Schools.)

Two years ago, teachers at Blaine and Kelley were shocked to find that months after being awarded a grant from PSP to become a “Transformation School”, they all had to reapply for their positions. Most were forced to leave both schools.

When the SRC “accepts with gratitude” these PSP grants, they only further the two-tiered system in the district. Why does an outside organization, most of whose board members live outside the city, and whose board meetings are not open to the public, have the power to decide which schools get more funding than others? Why does PSP’s money put teachers and resources in schools of their choice while others struggle?

This resolution actually violates the “Declaration of Education” referred to here (page 3), which says that its main goal is “Providing equitable resources and opportunities for all district students.” (The Declaration also promises “adequately staffed libraries”— is this declaration only hauled out for specific purposes?)

 Will this grant agreement be available to the public?

Series on Innovative Schools Leaves Out Many Details | APPS member Lisa Haver – The Notebook – June 20, 2014

Two North Philly grade schools to undergo massive staffing changes in hopes of ‘turnaround’ | The Notebook – March 10, 2014


 A7: Amendment to 2016-2017 Academic Calendar – James Blaine and William Kelley Elementary Schools

RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, to amend the 2016-2017 Academic Calendar, originally authorized by Resolution SRC-6, approved by The School Reform Commission on December 17, 2016 and amended on May 19, 2016, with respect to the James G. Blaine and William D. Kelley schools, in the following ways:

  1. Add August 22, 2016, August 23, 2016, August 24, 2016, and August 25, 2016 as Professional Development (Full Day).

2. Change the first day of student attendance from September 7, 2016 to August 29, 2016.

3. Add August 29, 2016, August 30, 2016, August 31, 2016, and September 1, 2016 as half days for students with dismissal at 12:30pm and 2-Hour, 39-Minute Professional Development Days with teachers released at 3:09pm.

4. Change Kindergarten Parent/Teacher Interviews from September 7, 2016 to September 6, 2016.

5. Add September 2, 2016 as no school for students or staff. This date is in exchange for August 29, 2016.

6. Change December 23, 2016 from full instruction day to Winter Recess. This date is in exchange for August 30, 2016.

7. Change February 21, 2016, February 22, 2016, February 23, 2016, and February 24, 2016 from full instruction days to Winter Recess. These dates are in exchange for #1 above.

Description: This amended resolution is being submitted to request changes to the 2016-2017 academic calendar to increase instructional time for students and common planning and professional development time for teachers to support swift, significant gains in academic achievement at the James G. Blaine and William D. Kelley schools.

APPS: Just one example of what can change in PSP-funded schools, including the academic calendar. This creates a problem for parents who have children in these two schools and other schools who will be on a different schedule. The District states that they are changing the calendar “to support  swift, significant gains in academic achievement….”   Swift gains are often shallow gains. Significant gains are based on a solid foundation that is developmentally appropriate.


A15: Lease Agreement with Drexel University – Temporary Location for the new 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 Drexel University, for the rental of approximately 5,643 rentable square feet, including 7 classrooms, office space and cafeteria in the Dornsife Building located at 3509 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia PA, (the “Premises”). Drexel is allowing access to the entire space which is approximately 8,761 square feet to house the fifth grade students of the Science Leadership Academy Middle School in year one of the lease term and the fifth and sixth grade students in year two of the lease term. The annual rent for the first year of the term is $69,120 per year ($12.25 per rentable square foot) to be paid monthly commencing on July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017. The annual rent for the second year of the term is $75,888 per year ($14.45 per rentable square foot) to be paid monthly commencing on July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2018. All utilities are covered in the rental payments. The School District will be responsible for the cost of an on-site maintenance person and all cleaning expenses.

Description: The new Science Leadership Academy Middle School requires the fifth grade students be temporarily housed until a permanent building becomes available. The Premises at Ryan Hall at the Dornsife Building located at 3509 Spring Garden Street on the campus of Drexel University was determined to best fit the temporary needs of the Science Leadership Academy Middle School students during this period, based on classroom capacity, cost of the lease and its proximity to Powel Elementary (approximately .2 miles) which is the feeder elementary school to Science Leadership Academy Middle School. Transportation to the Dornsife Building will be provided per the School District’s standard transportation policy. The Philadelphia School Partnership awarded a $1.6 Million grant to Science Leadership Academy Middle School, a portion of which will be used to pay the rental expenses for this lease.

 APPS Comments: PSP has been instrumental in funding the new Science Leadership Academy Middle School. John Fry, president of Drexel, is a PSP board member. Even though there is not a permanent location for SLA Middle School, the district is opening the school this year, and has made special arrangements for the 5th grade (most middle schools begin with 6th grade) to be housed at a separate location . Drexel does not participate in PILOTS (nor does UPenn and Temple or any other university in Philadelphia) and they are charging rent for use of their facility. PILOTS (Payment In Lieu of Taxes) is a nationally recognized program that many universities use to pay taxes on profit-making business located on their campuses. Why doesn’t Drexel underwrite the rent as Drexel students will use this campus for so many learning opportunities? Why not pay PILOTS so that every student in the district benefits from this funding instead of a handful of students.


 Outsourcing Substitutes: Year 2

 A-35: Operating Budget: $42,000,000 Contract with Kelly Services – Substitute Staffing and 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 Kelly Services, to provide substitute staffing including recruiting, hiring and placement, for positions including, teachers, counselors, psychologists, librarians and other support personnel, for an amount not to exceed $42,000,000, for the period commencing July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2018.

Description: This proposed award is for a vendor to provide complete substitute service management for most per diem substitute positions, including responsibility for recruiting, hiring, assigning, managing, and training all substitute staff. The District is seeking to increase the quality and quantity of substitute staff to all schools. This is a fee for services contract. Kelly Services will only be paid for substitutes it supplies.

ABC Code/Funding Source: $42,000,000.00

1100-007-9400-1125-3311 FY17 ($21,000,000.00)

1100-007-9400-1125-3311 FY18 ($21,000,000.00)

 APPS: We all know what a disaster the district’s efforts to outsource substitutes has been. Teachers in schools across the district have had to cover classes. In fact, many schools went for months at a time without seeing one substitute. It was a transparent effort to get rid of unionized workers, and the fact that it made learning even more difficult for students is not stopping the district from making the same mistake for the second year in a row. Dr. Hite says that he is “…confident that Kelly Services will be successful given its track record with large, urban school districts.” But that’s what he told us last year about Source 4 Teachers. Even as he admits Source4Teachers failed Dr. Hite states “I am confident that Kelly Services will be successful given its track record with large, urban school districts.” The majority of Kelly’s clients do not serve large urban districts. Do our students and teachers have to suffer losing another year of instruction as the superintendent continues his relentless purge of union jobs? Kelly did not respond to the District RFP last year. What changed their mind? According to the Hillsborough County (Fla.) contract with Kelly their salary scale ranges from a high school diploma up to a retired school teacher. A clause states that “Kelly may use secondary vendors to fulfill any or all of its obligations hereunder without securing customer’s consent…”


More Donations 

Donations/Acceptances B1
Donation: $180,000 Acceptance of Donation of Services from the American Reading
Company/Memorandum of Understanding

RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia through the Superintendent or his designee, to accept with appreciation from the American Reading Company the donation of literacy resources and professional development to teachers and administrators in up to seven District schools to enhance early literacy instruction in Kindergarten through grade 3, valued up to $180,000 and contingent upon grant funding from the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey for the period commencing July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017.

FURTHER RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, contingent upon receipt of the grant to execute, deliver and perform a Memorandum of Understanding with American Reading Company to provide classroom literacy resources, training and professional development to teachers and administrators within The School District of Philadelphia in selected schools, for the period commencing July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017. Description: The American Reading Company focuses on providing literacy supports to children in elementary schools to ensure that students read on grade level by the end of third grade. American Reading Company will work closely with the schools involved in United Way’s Early Grade Literacy Program to promote a culture of improvement and reading excellence. This initiative is aligned to the District’s Action Plan v3.0, Anchor Goal 2: 100% of 8-year-olds will read on grade level.

The United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey (UWGPSNJ) selected the following schools in tandem with the District to participate in this initiative: Dr. Ethel Allen, William Dick, Tanner Duckrey, Prince Hall, John F. Hartranft, Joseph Pennell, and Bayard Taylor. These elementary schools had 25% or more students scoring below basic on the 2011 PSSA exams and were located in or near zip codes UWGPSNJ has targeted.

The American Reading Company will provide each participating school additional resources for their classroom libraries, materials to record student literacy progress, and other resources to support increases in children’s literacy levels. An element of the literacy initiative is for teachers to make the connection with students so they develop a love of reading and read both in and out of the classroom.

The American Reading Company will provide teachers and administrators with training and professional development to improve their skills in specialized early literacy instruction and related activities. Staff from participating schools will enter this program as a cohort group, which will promote collaboration and connections among colleagues. Teachers at the participating schools will work in partnership to share their experiences to provide the best literacy resources for their students. UWGPSNJ will periodically convene principals and conduct teacher-leader roundtable discussions to help develop and reinforce leadership strategies that support best practices in literacy instruction.

APPS Comment: Dr. Hite’s Vision 3.0 presents one goal of having every child reading on grade level. School libraries have always been an integral part of our schools’ reading program, and of course they still are in other districts. Every school needs a school library with a certified school librarian. A school library provides students with a broad range of reading materials—a classroom “library” does not. Classroom books should supplement school libraries, not replace them.

The problem with the District’s philanthropic fund | APPS member Lisa Haver – The Notebook – April 12, 2016


B4: Donation: $20,000 Acceptance of Donation from the Science Leadership Academy Home and School Association

RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes The School District of Philadelphia, through the superintendent or his designee, to accept with appreciation the donation of $20,000 from the Science Leadership Academy Home and School Association to pay one-tenth of the salary and benefits of a position and to assist with school support and operating expenses, for the period commencing July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017.

Description: This resolution is to obtain authorization to accept a donation of $20,000 from the Science Leadership Academy Home and School Association to be used to fund .1 of a position dedicated to providing additional math support to SLA students and to assist with summer reorganization, school supplies, and operating expenses for the 2016-17 school year.

APPS Comment: Schools with parents who are able to make individual donations to schools will have more resources than those who do not. The SRC needs to examine this policy before we find the district even further divided into the haves and have-nots.