Testimony of Karel Kliminik to the Board of Education, September 20, 2018

Renaissance Schools, Transformation Schools, Redesign Schools. Turnaround Network now rebranded as the Acceleration Network.  There may be a lack of teachers, supplies, and support staff, but the Hite administration never wants for new slots in which to insert schools while creating the illusion of community involvement.
Every year Superintendent Hite announces some new model of transforming schools that will “turn around” underperforming neighborhood schools. Over the past two years, he has targeted 17 schools as part of his “System of Great Schools”. This has created tremendous uncertainty and instability as teachers and principals worry about whether they will have to re-apply for their positions simply to stay in their school, while parents fight to keep teachers and administrators who have dedicated themselves to those schools. In keeping with the Hite administration practice of rebranding positions and programs, an indication of how the corporate mentality has infected the district, this initiative is now referred to as “Focus Schools”. Unlike in previous years, there has been no resolution or action item approving contracts to consultants for this program.
We have learned that the incompetent Cambridge Education will not return for another serving of District money. However, Temple has entered into a contract with the district to facilitate community engagement. For some reason this contract was not approved by either the SRC or the Board so that the public knows nothing of the contract terms.

Where is the proof that any of these interventions are working? Dr Hite calls out data for these schools labeled underperforming but then fails to provide any documentation that his interventions are working. We have attended every Priority School meeting over the past 2 years. All we heard from parents, students, school staff, and community was for the District to restore staff and services not saddle us with vendors like Jounce or ISA. We plan on attending the next set of meetings for Focus Schools as they are now called and hope to see Board members there. Meetings start next week.

As to Transformation what is being done at Strawberry Mansion High School is more like death by a 1,000 cuts. Rumors abound about shrinking student population and 9th grade possibilities for next year but nothing has been shared with the community. Even the Mansion website has not been updated with last year’s principal and schedule posted as if Mansion is truly an afterthought. Dr Hite created a Task Force and then rebranded it a Planning group that he said would meet to design programs for the school year. Nothing has been shared for a month. However, The Save Mansion group created its own plan for the comprehensive high school that was given to the Board in July. Dr Hite stated at the last Board meeting that signage acknowledging the Dr Ruth Wright Hayre Education Complex would be restored to the school’s lobby so my question tonight is when will that happen?