Testimony of Karel Kilimnik to the BOE, July 23, 2020

We are in the midst of uncertain times raging across the globe. Tremendously difficult decisions need to be made with circumstances rapidly changing. The Agenda for this meeting was not posted until late Monday afternoon giving the public a scant two day period in which to absorb the contents. What is most disturbing is the amount of money being spent on contracts with alarmingly inadequate descriptions. APPS has decried the consistent lack of information provided to the public. Actually the SRC provided far more details. No questions this time as I know they will not be answered. I am commenting on the outrageous nature of so many Items up for consideration.

    1.    Adoption of Board Policy 004.1 School Board Committees

This Item eliminates the District Partnerships and Community Engagement Committee with zero description of how the Board plans to address Community Engagement. Despite our repeated requests for information last year on why no Committee meetings had been scheduled, no answers were ever provided. Now the Committee has been eliminated with no mention of what is to replace it. 

    2.    Acceptance of Donation from The Greenfield Home and School Association – Playground and Rubber Play Surface ($275,000)

The Board constantly talks about equity in the District. It is wonderful to see parents taking an active role in supporting their school but few schools have the resources to do so. How is the Board addressing this?

    11.    Ratification of Contract with Paul Nedeau ($20,000)

During this crisis there is no need to hire another consultant to “craft communication and messaging”. However, there is a real need for PPE when each teacher is to be give only one mask for the entire year…this what should be purchased, not a communication consultant. Approving this Item is an insult towards teachers.

15.    Board Approval of the School District of Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania Department of Education Phased School Reopening Health and Safety Plan

This slick plan is ill conceived. It is obvious that parents and school staff were not consulted. Despite the Virtual Town Halls held (not really Town Halls where questions are actually answered), surveys, and zoom meetings the District administration has failed to answer questions posed by parents, school staff, and community members. This Plan should not be approved, it sacrifices lives.

    16.    Authorization of Memorandum of Understanding for Intensive Behavioral Health Services in Schools

This Item is a prime example of lack of information being provided. Allotting $60 million dollars to 27 non profits with no explanation of what they will be doing nor where the money is coming from is totally irresponsible.

    17.    Multiple Contracts for Healing Together: Student and Adult Wellness, Community-building, and Social-Emotional Learning Initiative for School Reopening ($348,000)

Here we have another example of a total lack of information provided. How will these programs be able to follow CDC directives for safety during this pandemic?

             20.    Contract with Partners in School Innovation – Professional Development ($265,000))

How can the Board even consider this Item for “Partners in School Innovation for school transformation and improvement services. As part of this partnership, Partners In School Innovation will provide professional development “ during this crisis when windows do not open and teachers are guaranteed one mask for the entire year? It is a travesty of the responsibility given to the Board if this Item is approved.

    25.    Ratification of Acceptance of Donation of Consulting Services from Accenture ($63,000)

Comcast should have supplied Chromebooks, delivered them to the homes of students, and made sure that every family has wifi.  Soliciting a donation of services so the District can assemble a glossy Reopening Schools Plan is a disgrace and a dodge for not making a true contribution to students’ lives.