Ears on the Board of Education: December 15, 2022
by Diane Payne
Students, educators, parents and community members who attended this action meeting waited in vain for the Board to discuss solutions for problems that had been in the news in the past few weeks: unsafe conditions at district schools, in particular Dobbins High school. Neither Board President Wilkerson nor Superintendent Tony Watlington mentioned the developing crisis. The Board stayed silent on the Dobbins crisis at its November 17 meeting, even after a Philadelphia Inquirerstory published just the day before. A December 9 Inquirer article quoted several district teachers about the administration’s failure to keep them and their students safe. Why won’t Board members and the superintendent discuss these crises at public meetings?
This meeting saw a change in Board leadership, with Reginald Streater taking the reins as Board President. In addition, Deputy Superintendent Uri Monson, the district’s CFO for years, has been tapped by PA Governor-elect Josh Shapiro to serve as his Budget Director; this was his last Board meeting. Watlington has increased central administration staff to address “customer service” (a term steeped in a corporate, product-oriented mentality rather than public service). Maybe the Board and Watlington could begin to address improved communication with a “no-cost” effort to publicly address concerns like those mentioned here as a first step to engagement and transparency.