Karel Kilimnik SRC testimony transcript – November 15, 2016

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Good evening Ms. Wilkerson as you attend and chair your first SRC meeting. I am Karel Kilimnik, co-founder of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools. I have been attending SRC meetings since 2001. Tonight I want to introduce you to our Eyes on the SRC, an analysis we publish on our website every month .

Several themes resonate this month. First is the issue of disappearing resolutions.

At September’s meeting, the SRC approved the reopening of Vaux High School, closed in 2013, as a “contract school” to be operated by Big Picture Philadelphia. Just before October’s meeting, the SRC withdrew Resolution B-10 which would have approved a six-year, $23 million contract with the education vendor to manage the school. There was never any staff presentation to explain what that program entailed or why it cost $23 million. Where is this money to operate one small high school coming from?

Resolutions for renewals of Mastery Clymer, Mastery Shoemaker, and Mastery Gratz are posted—as they have been every month since April. They have been withdrawn for this meeting as well.

Another concern is resolutions dealing with closed school buildings. The SEPTA strike showed the value of having neighborhood schools within walking distance.. There is the sale of Fitzsimmons School for $550,000 to someone named Martin Keaton. There is no description of who he is. What financial or community interests does he represent? Strawberry Mansion is in the early throes of gentrification. Is $550,000 a reasonable price for this enormous property that is zoned mixed Residential use? Is it slated to become another Bok school redevelopment project in a gentrifying neighborhood with market value housing forcing out residents and with commercial interests to support the new class of residents?

Dr. Hite, you are a highly paid superintendent who makes more than the mayor . You have surrounded yourself with highly paid administrators and have had your contract extended for five years. Why did you hire an out of state consulting firm to run focus groups to find out what each of your newly proclaimed Priority Schools need. Isn’t it your job to know what our schools need?