Finance & Facilities Committee Meeting: April 11, 2019

by Karel Kilimnik

Present: Co-chairs Lee Huang and Leticia Egea-Hinton and Committee member/Board President Joyce Wilkerson; Committee member Wayne Walker participated telephonically; Board member Chris McGinley attended; Board members Julia Danzy and Maria McColgan entered after the meeting began.

Huang began by thanking community members for their feedback. He invited the public to attend the District Budget meeting to be held on Thursday April 25 at 4 PM prior to the regularly scheduled Board Action Meeting. Huang stated that the Lump Sum Budget was posted on the website after being approved at the March 28 Action meeting. (APPS contends that that vote is not valid because it was taken in a private meeting from which the public was excluded following a disruption of the Action Meeting in the auditorium.)

Charter School Funding Overview

Chief Financial Officer Uri Monson presented his Overview of Charter School Financing. Highlights are listed below. (To listen to the entire meeting and see the Power-Point Presentations )

  • Charter schools comprise 37 % of student enrollment
  • Charter schools account for 30% of  total District spending
  • Any charter school enrollment increase is reflected by a similar decrease in District schools
  • 2008-2013 saw the largest enrollment increase in charter enrollment; enrollment has leveled out since then
  • When a charter school closes, about 40% of students return to a District school with remaining 60% enrolling in another charter.

Co-chair Huang asked whether anything is going on at City Council the District should be aware of.  Monson noted that a Tax Amnesty Bill had failed to be voted out of a Council Committee. He also stated that there are several bills under consideration concerning the Tax Abatement Program. Neither of these bills, if passed, would affect the District’s budget for the next ten years.

Facilities Update

Chief  Operating Officer Danielle Floyd presented her Facilities Update. She noted that paint stabilization and plaster repairs work continues. Floyd said that work at Dobson Elementary School has been completed and her office has learned that they need to get “our customer surveys completed”. Question:  Who are the customers? Is Floyd referring to parents and school staff members? APPS members have noted several times in testimony and in conversations with Board members that parents and students are not “customers”. They are not buying a service. They are the District’s stakeholders and have rights as such.

As Floyd described projects (including the major renovation at Benjamin Franklin High School to accommodate the SLA co-location next school year), Egea-Hinton reported that she and other Board members had been at Franklin that morning. She said their visit raised a major issue of maintenance, including how all of these projects will be maintained once they are completed. Floyd responded that they are providing professional development to ensure that cleaning and maintenance continues.  Egea-Hinton also questioned how the COO ensures that projects are finished to their standards. Floyd stated that there are numerous inspections both during the contract and at completion. No final payment is issued until the project has been completed to their standard. Danzy requested an update on the hiring of new cleaning staff; Floyd said that fourteen more positions had been approved. She also stated that her staff have started holding citywide Building Engineer meetings as well as recognizing “outstanding employees”.

Action Items

The list of Action Items under consideration was projected on the wall. However, as I pointed out during my comment, none of the Action Items was numbered, making it difficult to follow what was being discussed. President Wilkerson said they are working on fixing this problem.

  • Action Item – Cooperation Agreement  with the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority for the Sale of Communications Tech and George Pepper Middle School

Wilkerson wanted to know how the Eastwick community’s concerns have been incorporated into the process. Gregory Heller, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, testified that the planning process, as well as the present outcomes, did involve members of the Eastwick community. Present recommendations include demolishing Pepper MS because it was built on a floodplain and recommending development of the 84th Street side with commercial or mixed use.  The Communications Tech building is in relatively good shape, and recommendations include affordable housing or job training programs. Heller said that there will be community involvement as this Project moves forward.

  • Action Item Contract with Various Vendors – Furniture and Equipment for Roosevelt Elementary School Major Renovation

President Wilkerson asked COO Floyd if there was a place on the website to see Before and After photos of projects.