Ilene Poses transcript of testimony before the BOE, August 16, 2018

In the musical “Oliver” Fagin sings, “I’m reviewing the situation” and I urge the new board to review several of the last resolutions of the late SRC and “show respect – just a little bit” to the community.

1.The resolution to move Ad Prima Charter to East Mt. Airy was quickly approved without consulting the community of Mt. Airy, an area over 8 miles away from the old location of Ad Prima. This resolution affects three schools: McCloskey, Edmunds and Pennypacker. These three schools have seasoned staff and are considered ‘gems’ in the PSD. The new Ad Prima will sit across from Edmunds, a school whose boiler blew up a few years ago, killing a maintenance worker. The new charter will be air conditioned and newly painted and well maintained although the staff will probably be mostly inexperienced which is the norm for this charter. How do I know? I have been in every one of these schools within the last few years.

This decision disrespects the community

2. Mayfair School has been overcrowded for years. When the superintendent made his decision to move Mayfair’s kindergarten population to Auden Meehan Middle School – a school that has many environmental violations and is slated to be rebuilt in two years the parents were presented with a letter in English, stating this will occur without any community input. Many Mayfair families speak Mandarin but the letter was not translated for them. When the community came to the SRC to protest the parents stated for various reasons that they would like modulars at the school. At the SRC meeting the financial costs of both solutions was never adequately presented. If you have ever had work done on your house you would find it hard to believe that all the repairs and environmental violations would be completed in 6 weeks at a lower cost than adding 4 modulars.

This decision disrespects the community

3. Strawberry Mansion High is slated for closure; although, Superintendent Hite likes to use different words to state this. Stopping the new 9th grade – a grade that is easy to program for – will have that effect. The community has been told enrollment has dropped but you should be asking why that is so. If you drop all the interesting programs, staff the school with lots of substitutes and remove the teachers who taught there for years – enrollment goes down. Mission Accomplished! The community has been asking repeatedly for a return of these programs and has even provided a plan to improve the school to no avail.

This decision disrespects the community.

We are counting on you, the Board of Education, to look out for our communities and students. If schools like McCloskey suddenly lose an experienced principal or long standing faculty suddenly put in transfers something is going on. Look carefully when staff at a school, that is active politically, gets reconstituted repeatedly. Research shows that stability in faculty and administration makes for stronger schools. Ask questions and don’t just accept recommendations from the superintendent.
Fagin ends” I think I better think it out again.” So should you, the new school board.