Testimony of Karel Kilimnik to the BOE, September 17, 2020

The good news is the CDC extending funding to enable the district’s support of students during this unprecedented traumatic time. Many of our students experience trauma on a daily basis. This has escalated due to the pandemic and glaring inequities built into our society. Gun violence grows as economic conditions worsen – unemployment rises, housing uncertainties grow, the lack of adequate healthcare deepens. Trauma includes schools beset with toxic environmental conditions and the lack of support staff. 

The District needs more counselors, social workers, psychologists, and Para Professionals including BCAs. These positions need to be fully funded especially as schools begin to open when science declares it safe. Trauma does not disappear because students return to a school building. The District needs to shift its priority to hiring District staff not outsourcing staff, resources, and professional development.

Closing schools as was mentioned earlier this evening increases trauma and deprives neighborhoods of an anchor. Board members should commit to building a school district not dismantling one. As the state continues to refuse  to enact a fair funding formula. The District needs every dollar generated by taxes as was mentioned earlier. I urge you to listen to community voices raised both last month and tonight and vote to deny Item 27. Do the right thing for the people of Philadelphia, not corporations interested in making a profit and not paying taxes.