Where Are the Checks and Balances on How District Money is Spent?

Testimony June 24, 2021

By Diane Payne 

I am speaking on a number of tonight’s Action Items.

Action Item 34 is another generic change order totaling $875,608.  That brings the year’s total to $6,324,495.  Since every change order only lists a generic explanation, there is no month-by-month accountability for who generated the change order or why.  This is a multi-million dollar, monthly “trust me”.

Action Item 22 is an ERP amended amount totaling $8,900,000 added to the previously approved staggering $59,380,000.  The Action Item notes an amended timeline. It is confusing what the amended timeline is because the Action Item lists a current end date of 6/30/2028 and an amended end date of the same thing – 6/30/2028.  That is a lot of money.  Is there a quality check on how this money is being spent?

Action Item 41 is a $10,000,000 expenditure to a private company for custodial services.  This is one more indication of how the District chooses to outsource jobs and services rather than build a robust in-house department.

Action Item 70 is a do over for Philadelphia Collegiate’s application which was previously rejected.  This application needs to be rejected again.  We cannot afford any new charter schools until all Philadelphia public schools are free of toxins and fully resourced.  A substandard application such as this should never be approved.  Changing some sentences does not change the substance of who they are or why their application was and is substandard.  

Action Item 69 is an MOU with the Philadelphia Academy, Inc  which is a Neubauer funded initiative to support 9th graders on their path to graduation.  The emphasis in this Item is on teachers “building capacity” which feels an awful lot like – do more with less and call it something else.  No where in the description was any indication of where teachers can input their evaluation of the program.  Nor was it clear how it would be measured and reported out regarding the 9th grade success rate based on the program’s use.  But language was built in to continue the program even as the Action Item lacked accountability metrics.