Testimony of Catherine Blunt to the Board of Education, September 20, 2018

One Bright Ray Contracts B-4, B-15, and A-15

Aside from truncating Strawberry Mansion High School for the 2018-2019 school year, Superintendent Dr. Hite selected One Bright Ray to be housed on the 5th floor of that High School to provide educational opportunities for over-aged area students who were either attending a One Bright Ray Campus or who would benefit from the program being in the neighborhood. Additionally, a night school was included in the contract to provide area adults an opportunity to get their diplomas. (Resolution B-15)

On August 30, 2018, the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) convened a “Strawberry Mansion Community Meeting” to provide an overview of the One Bright Ray Programs housed on the 5th floor of Strawberry Mansion High School. However, only 4 community members attended mainly because the SDP did not consult with Key community members or involved them in planning of and convening the meeting.

Essentially, those attending learned that the SDP contract with One Bright Ray is for 5 years, awarding each of the 5 campus 2+ million dollars each year with the One Bright Ray at Strawberry Mansion High School getting approximately 5 million dollars each year because it has a day and night campus. We also learned that these programs at Mansion would open in October 2018 and that no Strawberry Mansion neighborhood students had been identified and / or slated for enrollment. Further, there did not seem to be a concrete, well thought-out plan to recruit neighborhood students to the day school or neighborhood adults to the night school. We were told word of mouth, some leafleting, and some door-to-door outreach was occurring.

Additionally, the SDP’s Lease Agreement with International Education and Community Initiatives (A-15), One Bright Ray, Inc.’s parent company, for renting the 5th Floor of Strawberry Mansion High School is for 1 year for a about 96 thousand dollars ($96,400) from September 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019 with an option to lease until June 30, 2021 and a final year lease increase to 102 thousand dollars ($102,000).

Background Information:
The SRC entered into a contract with International Education and Community Initiatives in April 2017 (B-4) in which it awarded almost 43 million dollars ($42,800,000) for 3 One Bright Ray, Inc. Campuses providing accelerated credit and graduation programs to over-aged high school students. At the time, the there were 1,000 or less students enrolled.

In May 2018, the SRC voted to increase that contract by almost 14 million dollars ($13,850,000) to include 2 One Bright Ray, Inc. Campuses at Strawberry Mansion High School beginning the 2018-2019 school year: a day program with 200 over-aged students and a night school for 200 adults (B-15).

The total awarded to One Bright Ray, Inc. for its accelerated and night school programs was almost 56 million dollars ($55,850,000) for 12 hundred (1200) day students and two hundred (200) night school students.

Questions and / or Concerns:
1. One Bright Ray at Strawberry Mansion High School is considered to have 2 campuses: a day campus and a night campus. Is each campus billed separately or is One Bright Ray at Strawberry Mansion considered one campus only for and in the lease agreement with the SDP?

2. How many students attend SDP high schools and how many students attend SDP accelerated programs run in and by the SDP?

3. How many students attend accelerated classes at one of the One Bright Ray Campuses?

4. Considering, the number of students serviced, are the amounts the SDP pays to educate students attending regular high school programs and their accelerated programs comparable to the $56 million dollars it’s paying over 5 years for accelerated programs and night school at One Bright Ray, Inc.?

5. How is it cheaper or cost effective to outsource to One Bright Ray, Inc. these SDP services, which were effectively and efficiently done in high schools by SDP personnel?

6. Did the SDP require One Bright Ray, Inc. to develop and share its Strawberry Mansion Neighborhood Recruitment Plan for its day and evening campus?

7. Does One Bright Ray have Plans for its Strawberry Mansion Campuses, who in the School District reviewed them, who in the School District will monitor them, how often, and what are the expected outcomes for year one, year two, and year 3?

8. How many Mansion neighborhood over-aged day students and adults night students must One Bright Ray, Inc. service in order for it to meet its contract with the SDP? What happens if it does not?