Testimony of Diane Payne to the BOE, January 17, 2019

Action Item 10 proposes to spend over $17 million dollars on renewing CLI. If approved, this will bring the total spent to over $40 million dollars since 2014. Parents and teachers in SGS cohorts consistently appeal for mostly sound, research based, in-house commitments like smaller class size, additional student to adult ratios, and school libraries. But once again the District funnels money into a top-down, out-sourced initiative.
Coming soon, will be the decisions to approve or deny 3 new charter school applications. Charter School expense is the single biggest and most destructive expense in the School District budget. Destructive because the effort to provide choice for some comes at the financial harm to all remaining public-school students. This despite the Charter School sector largely failing to deliver even adequate Academic achievement as evidenced in Charter SPR scores..
To look at just one of those applications, TACS@ St. Vincent, an American Paradigm School, is to peek into a shadowy world of real estate transactions, highly paid CEOs and poor academic performance. Getting to the bottom of real estate deals and salaries in any charter school company is groping in the dark. This is because Charter Schools don’t have to make their dealings transparent. It is legal for them not to under PA’s highly corrupt Charter School Law.
American Paradigm purchased, for their headquarters, 8101 Castor Avenue. This property was purchased under a joint venture with Stanwood Associate. A company without any searchable presence. Looking at the names and addresses of the two brothers who signed for this shadowy company, you discover 2 home addresses: one in Holland, PA and one in Naples, FL. The signees are James and Joseph Fluehr; 2 brothers whose names appear on several area Funeral Homes.
The 5-million-dollar purchase of the old St. Vincent’s orphanage for TACS@ St. Vincent will be another opaque deal with the public in the dark about fees, interest rates, and who benefits.
But, you can view the SPRs of American Paradigm’s cohort of schools on the District website. Five campuses are in Intervene and one campus is in Watch in Academic Achievement.
Despite the corrupt Charter School law, here is what this Board can do.
This Board can say NO to an application of a company that does NOT provide Model or even Reinforce Academic SPR scores across its 6 existing campuses.
This Board can say NO to additional financial harm to existing public-school students.
This Board has more than just cause to vote NO on this application.