Student Achievement and Support Committee: October 10, 2019

by Lynda Rubin

Present were Co-chairs Chris McGinley and Angela McIver, Committee members Maria McColgan and Julia Danzy,  and Student Representative Doha Ibrahim.

Doha Ibrahim is one of the two non-voting Student Representatives selected to sit on the Board of Education for this school year. Doha is a senior at Lincoln High School, President of the ESOL Ambassador Program (English to Speakers of Other Languages), and she identifies herself as the voice of non-English speaking students. She owns her own business, Doha Photography. Doha wants to increase student support at all schools throughout the District.   APPS welcomes Doha Ibrahim!

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Finance and Facilities Committee Meeting: October 10, 2019

by Diane Payne

The SLA/Franklin snafu was the subject of remarks from Board members, Superintendent Hite, and community members. Some public speakers asked why no Board members were present during the community meetings earlier in the week. 

Present and Opening Remarks

Present were Co-chairs Lee Huang and Leticia Egea-Hinton, Committee members Joyce Wilkerson and Wayne Walker (who again participated via phone). The remaining five Board members also attended: Julia Danzy, Mallory Fix-Lopez, Maria McColgan,  Angela McIver, and Chris McGinley. Also seated at the head table were Superintendent Hite, Chief Operating Officer Danielle Floyd, and Chief Financial Officer Uri Munson. Wilkerson announced that the City of Philadelphia CFO Rob Dubow was in attendance in the audience.

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Board of Education Public Hearing: September 26, 2019

by Lynda Rubin

The recently amended Philadelphia Home Rule Charter mandates that the Board of Education hold at least two public hearings each school year for the sole purpose of giving parents, students, teachers, and community members the right and opportunity to address the Board with concerns, suggestions, complaints and questions. One purpose of making these hearings part of the City Charter was to underline that the Board is a public body that needs to engage with and be responsive to the public will. The Board may not always agree with members of the public, but they do have to consider the wishes of the people as they make decisions about spending tax dollars and formulating educational policy. The city’s populace successfully fought to have the School Reform Commission replaced with a Board precisely because the SRC ignored the people’s interests and inclusion in the process of running public schools for our city’s children. That this Board is appointed by the mayor and not elected by voters in no way diminishes the fact that its members are expected to be working on behalf of the public–that is, their constituents.

In light of that, it is inexplicable that the Board did not publicized this meeting commensurate with its importance, resulting in a disappointingly under-attended meeting. Board members were informed by staff that robo-calls were made to parents, and that notice was posted on the District’s website. But this notice  required a more descriptive and inviting name than the two-word “Public Hearing” in a small box in the Board calendar, which requires several page clicks to find. As community activist Mama Gail Clouden pointed out in her testimony, students’ home and cell phone numbers are changed too often to be a reliable means of contact. At the very least, a banner with the meeting information should have been prominently placed on the Home Page of the District’s website where anyone who goes to the website for any reason will see it. The Board should explore such ideas as using PSAs (Public Service Announcements) on TV and radio stations which are often provided free as a service to public schools.

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Policy Committee: September 12, 2019

By Barbara Dowdall

(Videos of all Board meetings can be viewed on the Board of Education page on the SDP website. Meeting materials, including agendas and PowerPoint presentations, can be found on the Board of Education website. The video can be watched here.

Policy Committee co-chairs Dr Maria McColgan and Joyce Wilkerson were present along with members Lee Huang, Chris McGinley, and Julia Danzy. Board member Dr. Angela McGiver also  attended.

Committee co-chair Dr. McColgan opened the meeting by noting that all items under discussion were posted in advance.

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