by Lisa Haver
May 21, 2018
Will This Budget Provide Essential Services for All Students?
The resolution list for this second May meeting is a relatively short one. The first two resolutions, without text at this point, propose the final operating and capital budgets for the 2018-19 fiscal year. [See the full resolution list below*. Find the complete resolution summary here.]
Why the Disruption for Kindergarten Students and Families?
Resolution SRC-4 finalizes the academic calendar for 2018-19; first day for staff is August 20, first day for students is August 27. As Dr. Hite noted at the May 17 meeting, this will be the first year that Kindergarten students begin on the same day as students in all other grades. He did not give a reason for the change, but teachers know that this will make the beginning of school a more chaotic time for schools and a more frightening time for the 5-year old Kindergarten students. Teachers have been told by administrators that they can meet with parents instead of going to the mandated Professional Development sessions their colleagues will be attending during the week before students arrive. In the past, some Kindergarten teachers would contact the families of new students over the summer (or in the first few days of school) and make appointments to meet them during the first week of school. This gave the teacher an opportunity to give informal assessments, give the parents a chance to ask questions about them and the school, to have the children see the classroom and meet the teacher one-on-one. There was support staff in the building to answer questions about other services that may be necessary for the child. Dr. Hite laid off classroom assistants in 2013, so most Kindergarten classrooms are without them now. A recent Philadelphia Inquirer story highlighted the district’s 9th grade academies, which the district says helps to build a foundation for high school students. Why is the district eroding this crucial foundation for Kindergartners?
More Second Chances for Charters
Resolutions on the revised application for Hebrew Philadelphia Charter and the 5-year renewal for Laboratory Charter were posted on the May 17 Resolution List but were withdrawn, without explanation, just prior to the meeting. (Could be because Commissioner Green, who almost always votes pro-charter, was absent again?) The resolution for the revised application for APM resolution has appeared, but no mention of Hebrew Charter—so far. We know that the SRC plays fast and loose with the rules, so that could pop up just before the meeting next week.
Should the SRC approve Resolution SRC-5, the revised application for APM Community Charter School would be approved. The original application was denied at the February 22, 2018 meeting. The Charter Schools Office (CSO), although no longer permitted to make recommendations on new charter applications, raised several concerns in all areas—academic, financial and organizational.
The CSO evaluation on the revised application submitted last month answers some of the CSO concerns but not all. As Lynda Rubin pointed out in her January report, APM has no experience in running a K-8 school here or anywhere. Is there a need in the Feltonville community—or in any neighborhood in the city—for a charter run by an inexperienced administration and staff?
Also withdrawn without explanation from the May 17 agenda was a resolution for Laboratory Charter’s renewal, which has been postponed for over a year, since April 2017, with no explanation. Like all resolutions about charter applications or renewals, this was designated a “quasi-judicial” resolution, thus the SRC posts no text, only the title. APPS has asked for an explanation of this practice by the SRC; those questions remain unanswered. The policy of the SRC, for the past two years, has been that descriptions of all charter resolutions, from new applications to renewals, will be kept from the public—until after the vote, when the resolution is posted in full. This constitutes a falsification of the public record. Although not posted yet, it could also make an re-appearance just before Thursday’s meeting. Although the Charter Schools Office recommended Non-Renewal last year, the school continues to operate as if it had been renewed. The CSO stated in its 2017 evaluation that Laboratory “Does Not Meet” standards in both the Organizational and Financial categories. The CSO’s 2018 updated evaluation indicates that the schools has contracted with a company called “Charter Choices” to remedy that, although no details, if there are any at this point, to show that the financial issues have been remedied.
For some reason, the district lists Laboratory’s three campuses as one school. There is a K-3 at 59th and Woodbine in Wynnefield and a 4-8 school at 53rd and Lebanon in Overbrook. It’s a stretch to call that one school, but the neighborhoods are close. But how is a separate K-8 at 8th and Orianna in Northern Liberties part of the same school—all the way across the city?
*SCHOOL REFORM COMMISSION PUBLIC MEETING RESOLUTION LIST
MAY 24, 2018
I. SCHOOL REFORM COMMISSION
- SRC-1 Adopts an amended Operating Budget for 2017/2018 and an Operating Budget for 2018/2019 (Pending)
- SRC-2 Adopts an amended Capital Budget for 2017/2018 and an amended Capital Program for 2018- 2023 and Adopts a Capital Budget for 2018/2019 and a Capital Program for 2019-2023 (Pending)
- SRC-3 Approves an Agreement with the Philadelphia Intermediate Unit to provide an Educational Program and Auxiliary Services to Nonpublic Students for 2018/2019 (Pending)
- SRC-4 Amendment to 2018-2019 Academic Calendar
- SRC-5 Proposed Action on Revised Charter Application – APM Community Charter School (Pending)
II. EDUCATION SUPPORT SERVICES A-1 Capital Fund:
III. EDUCATION SERVICES
Academic – Donations/Acceptances
B-1 Donation: $145,207 Acceptance of Donation from the Associated Alumni of Central High School; Distribution of 2018 Central High School Alumni Awards
IV. INTERMEDIATE UNIT
- IU-1 Adopts an amended Philadelphia Intermediate Unit Budget for 2017/2018 and a Philadelphia Intermediate Unit Budget for 2018/2019 (Pending)
- IU-2 Approves an Agreement with the Philadelphia School District to provide an Educational Program and Auxiliary Services to Nonpublic School Students for 2018/2019 (Pending)
If you want to speak at Thursday’s SRC meeting you must call 215-400-4180 before 3:30 PM Wednesday, May 23rd.