First of all I want to recognize the newly confirmed commissioner Estelle Richman. It took awhile to have you move from the back of the room to the front. But isn’t that true of so much change that it takes awhile to happen. Thank you to Uri Monson for his Guide to School Budgets. As someone who breaks out in hives when faced with numbers you present the budget information in an understandable format.
The Broad trained Dr Hite has declared his intention to close 3 schools a year starting next year. We know that this process is already in place because he plans ahead behind closed doors as we just found out about the secret meetings of charter school operators and district personnel. All done in secret. So what else is new in this transparency-challenged district?
Here’s a brief history lesson of marketing school closures as a fixture of policy. In 2012 Jeremy Nowak William Penn Foundation president raised millions of dollars to bring in the global marketing firm Boston Consulting Group(BCG) to create a plan for the next five years. Instead of going through government officials , known as the SRC, Nowak raised funds from private donors like Gerry Lenfest and the newly created PSP . BCG spent 6 weeks here and refused to release their report. It wasn’t until education activists demanded that their report be made public that they did so. It took another 2 1/2 years to get their list of 88 schools recommended for closure released to the public.
These closures were allegedly to save money. Despite being asked for these savings, no figures were ever presented. The public has never been told how much money was saved closing 23 schools in 2013 . Now we are poised to enter another round of school closures. What schools are on the chopping block? And when will we find out?
Back in 2012 there were a series of meetings held for public comment. Students, often in tears, pleaded for their schools to remain open. Unlike at the recent charter hearings, where SRC commissioners bent over backwards to assure charter school students, their parents, and management that their schools would remain open or if they were recommended for closure they were given options to help keep their schools open. On the other hand, students at district-run schools were given no such support. Their pleas fell on deaf ears. Somehow the SRC has flexible rubber-like rules for charter schools and cement rules for district schools where there is absolutely zero recourse to save a public school from closure.
I have a suggestion to make. 10% of district -managed schools were closed in 2013. Dr Hite does not supervise these schools anymore. Every time you close a school you should also take a cut in your salary since your workload has decreased. How about it, Dr Hite? When you close a district run school hand back a portion of your salary?