Written testimony to the BOE Action Meeting, Dec. 8, 2021

by Diane Payne

It is blatantly anti-democratic and flagrantly disengaging to shut out public speakers.  Yet for almost one year now, the Board bullishly persists.  This speaker suppression is the polar opposite of community engagement.  No more than 30 (most likely far less than 30 with the folks not present) will publicly present to the Board at this meeting.  How many people did you shield yourself from publicly hearing?   The speaker registration was closed 19 hours after it opened (possibly much sooner) indicating many people were shut out of their government.  Shame on the walls you build.  This is undemocratic, un-American, and un-engaging.  

Action Item 10 – There is no presentation listed on the agenda to explain this change of service. Hopefully this $58 million Action Item will come with some kind of explanation.  The bio for ESS Northeast lists Source4Teachers as a secondary source of substitute teachers in the company’s founding days of 2000.  Source4Teachers was a Hite debacle that caused a year-long, District wide substitute hardship after the PFT substitute agreement was cancelled.  Is there data to support the benefits of outsourcing substitute services rather than maintaining the PFT contract?  Why is Kelley being replaced by ESS Northeast? 

Action Item 22 for $708,429 brings the 2021 change order total to $10,627,406.  The Board has no idea from the information in the Action Item if any of these changes should be questioned.  Only generic explanations are provided each month.

Action Item 36 – Audenried Charter School.  The full text of this Action Item is not included making this a violation of the Sunshine Act.  The text that is included fails to note any of Audenried’s history of failures, CSO recommendation for non-renewal, or previous surrender clause agreement.  I guess everyone is just supposed to pretend they were never there.  This is a dereliction of Board duty.  The vote today should be to demand the originally agreed upon surrender clause and return this Renaissance school to District control.  They have failed in their promised mission to dramatically change the outcomes for public school students.