Superintendent Hite soon will be announcing the fate of this year’s cohort of six Priority schools. Dr. Hite may also be announcing the names of public schools he will ask the SRC to close this year. The SRC will be voting next month on whether to approve any of the nine new charter applicants. All of these things are related, and the decisions will have long-lasting effects on the students and families in the school district.
Last year the SRC approved a $200,000 contract with Cambridge education to conduct a school quality review. After APPS members attended meetings at the schools and analyzed Cambridge’s report, we testified that the SRC should get its—our—money back, as the report had almost no data and questionable anecdotal information.
The SRC rewarded Cambridge’s bilking of the district by awarding them another contract this year to perform the same SQR, not surprisingly with the same results. They also awarded Temple U a contract to do community outreach, which was anything but.
The overwhelming message from parents at these schools was: restore necessary services like NTAs and librarians. We shall see if that’s what the Priority schools get, or whether, as the Penn Treaty community found out even before the hearings began, more public money will be outsourced to edu-vendors like Jounce Partners and ISA.
The SRC should reject all of the new charter applications. As we testified at the first hearing last month, the district has an obligation to consider the financial effect of any new charter, not only on the surrounding community, but on the financial health of the district as a whole. We attended hearings for Qor and APM last week after reviewing both applications. They are clearly not up to the task of running a school. It would be a major act of malfeasance for this body to approve any new Aspira charter after the many instances of financial improprieties and misuse of taxpayer funds by that company—not to mention the declining test scores and graduation rates.
There cannot be any more closings of neighborhood schools. One fact the district did not advertise is that, after reorganization and moving cists, it recovered only 50% of the $22 million it claimed it would save.
The SRC is a lame-duck body. It should not be making any decisions which the new board will have to clean up after. No new charters. No more neighborhood school closings. No more targeting schools as markets for edu-vendors like Jounce Partners, ISA, TFA, TNTP, Relay Graduate school and the other companies we are shoveling money to at the same time students try to learn in crumbling buildings and teachers have to buy classroom supplies.
My question to Dr. Hite and the SRC: this is now the third year in a row the district has contracted with an outside company to conduct a recruitment campaign. Last year, after spending $100,000 on teacher recruitment, the district held a celebration, announcing that it had filled 99% of vacancies. Why is the SRC voting tonight on a $490,000 contract for recruitment?