April 20, 2021
Dear President Wilkerson and Board Members of the Board,
We are writing in reference to Item 4 on the April 22 2021 Action Item agenda, the amendment request from KIPP charter schools. KIPP is requesting numerous changes, including name, location, grade and enrollment expansion, recruitment area expansion, and the official beginning and end dates for the 5-year term of “KIPP Parkside Charter School”. There are a number of inconsistencies in the Item’s description along with a number of issues that should be addressed before the Board considers this Item.
First, the District’s webpage lists no KIPP Parkside Charter School. There is a KIPP West Philadelphia and a KIPP West Philadelphia Preparatory. The address of the first is 5070 Parkside, so we assume that the Item refers to that school.
The District website lists KIPP West Philadelphia Charter as a K-3 schools. However, the 2017 SRC resolution linked in Item 4 states that this school would not include Grade 3 until the 2021-22 school year. When was KIPP granted an amendment for grade expansion after its initial approval?
The SRC resolution also indicates that “KIPP Parkside…shall not open until the 2019-20 school year.” Why would a school in its second year of operation need to move? KIPP’s operators told the SRC that the Parkside community needed a KIPP charter school. Item 4 gives no explanation of why KIPP’s operators changed their mind so quickly or whether they had actually intended to stay in that community.
The KIPP West Philadelphia timeline on the District website links to an August 11, 2017 amendment request to move from their 5900 Baltimore Avenue, 19143 location to 2412 South 62nd Street, 19142,.
Since the proposal states that this West Philadelphia KIPP began operating in 2016, there is more confusion about which school the current Item refers to. The same proposal states: “The SRC has also approved a merger for KIPP West and KIPP West Philadelphia Preparatory Charter School (KIPP West Prep), pending the SRC’s approval of KIPP West Prep’s 2017 renewal. “ But there are still two separate entries on the District website for those two schools.
The Board agenda lists Item 4 s as “Grant of Charter and Charter Amendment”. Why is the Board granting a charter for a school that is in its second year of operation and whose charter was approved in 2017 by the SRC?
Why is KIPP asking that its official 5-year term be changed to “commence on July 1, 2022 and end on June 30, 2027”? The Item does not indicate that this is a renewal request.
The February 8, 2017 SRC Resolution 3 makes any expansion of KIPP Parkside contingent on KIPP’s reaching specific academic standards. The current Item provides no data to show that KIPP reached those standards.
Item 4 states that the Charter Schools Office has recommended that the Board of Education approve the charter and grant the amendment request, but gives no reason why. Has the CSO presented any reasons to the Board? If so, why are they not included in the official item? If not, why would the Board grant a multiple-part amendment without any explanation or evidence that it would be in the best interest of the many communities affected? This Item offers no evidence that KIPP engaged in any outreach to the residents or the schools in the 19139 community. Do the needs of the students and families in the public schools in that area not matter to the Board when considering charter operator requests?
The public needs to know which KIPP school the Item is referring to and what the ramifications of the amendment would be to the immediate communities and the District as a whole.
We ask that the Board withdraw Item 4 for consideration from the April 22, 2021 agenda. The KIPP amendment proposal should only be considered when the public has the answers to all of these questions.