Testimony of Karel Kilimnik to the Board of Education, February 28, 2019



My dilemma  is a 3 minute time limit and many issues. First and foremost  you are government officials in charge of a $3 billion budget.. As the persons overseeing this spending approving any of these charters is an abdication of your responsibility for all of our students. The Charter Schools Office, APPS, and the Education Law Center have described the flaws and concerns in all 3 applications. You need to take a stand and deny every one. You need to resist the political pressure raining down on your heads and put the needs of our students front and center. They need to be educated in healthy buildings and  have adequate staff including school librarians. You risk all of this by putting millions into the wallets of these charter management companies.

Next, examine the System of Great Schools Program. Their band-aid approach to supporting struggling schools does not address long term funding needs. We have attended SGS meetings for the past 3 years and have heard parents,teachers, students, & community members clearly state what their school needs -stable staffing,experienced climate personnel, academic supports including reading specialists. Not vendors selling professional development and coaching. Only one Board member attended one SGS meeting last fall. This extra funding is temporary.  Initially each school was promised up to $1 million. Next year there will be 20 schools. Where is that money coming from? I asked at the Student Achievement and Support committee and several SGS focus meetings. I have been either ignored or told by district staff that they don’t know.

If the District truly wanted to hear from a school community then it should be a year long process of holding meetings, doing home visits, and providing  space for the entire school community to develop its own plan after assessing their strengths and weaknesses. Hiring Temple to hold meetings compressed into one month has resulted in extremely limited participation with skewed data. Since this administration loves data collection how did they ensure that all sectors were included? None of that was evident in any SGS report.

Next issue. The SRC started answering questions raised at meetings  by printing answers and passing them out at their next meeting. The Board needs to develop a way of answering our questions.

I know that you take your responsibility as Board members seriously. These suggestions are made to support your stated commitment to equity ,transparency  and accountability. Now it’s up to you to do the right thing…deny these charters, insist that the District engage with school communities in a thoughtful process and answer our questions!