Did you miss the April school board meeting? Check out our recap to stay up to date with everything going on in the district.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of everything spoken about during the school board meeting rather just some of the items/topics that stuck out to us here at UrbEd.
Budget and funding
There was no action on the budget at this meeting. Formal budget adoptions are scheduled for late may. For now, schools’ budgets are up by 4.5% per pupil next year and up 19% over two years. The district is currently spending 6.1 million for a partial hold-harmless for schools that have had enrollment drops.
The district would need $4976 more per student to achieve full funding, according to a Ed law center/public interest law center study. CFO Mike Herstand discusses that “this is not what schools deserve or students deserve, but it is therealty of where we are right now.”
Ruqayyah Rashad rep from Yondr (produces pouches that lock cell phones) promotes products to decrease student distraction and increase outcomes. The current contract is at a standstill. In response Kristin Luebert, a teacher, tells the district not to waste money on unnecessary and frivolous items.
People testified again about reopening pools. “Mama” Gail testified about reopening pools and reinstating junior high school and driver’s education. Kristin Bitt argued to open pools. State Rep. Darisha Parker wants Marcus Foster pool reopened. Kenneth Booker and Gloria Presely, both community members, argued for pools re-opening.
Board President Streater says 107 students were injured and 21 killed this school year. Attendance matters “if students are in school, they are less likely to be impacted by gun violence” according to Streater.
3594 students have dropped out this school year according to the district's numbers. Study estimates that each student who dropped out will miss out on over 405k per student. Watlington mentioned that it is critical that the District continues to try and assist these young people and provide them with safety nets.
The District is working with young people experiencing homelessness to remove barriers to attendance.
The board shouted out the teachers that won the Lindback awards this year. Joseph DeSantis, an ELA teacher at Olney, won teacher of the month. Seniors of the month are Stephen Lawson HS of the Future and Adrian McRae-Woodruff, Roxborough HS. Finally, VP Mallory Fix-Lopez shouts out Kensington HS kids who place first at the states competition of skills USA competition. The students are headed to nationals this month.
Watlington said “We live in a free market, capitalistic society” and as such need to compete for the best teachers. There was discussion of possible signing bonuses inspired by new Camden School District policy.
The Philadelphia School District has not purchased a science curriculum in 20 years.
Jordyn Simmons, an 8th grade president at Nebinger, testifies that all elementary schools should offer a foreign language. She wants to take Spanish to be able to communicate with members of Philadelphia.
Rahim Gardner Nebinger, student, testifies that some students had algebra tutoring from a parent volunteer but no class. He asks why don’t all schools have access to algebra especially as algebra is a prereq for masterman. The district is currently piloting Algebra 1 pilot at 3 additional schools and currently serves 34. This program will be expanded to 15 more soon.
There were PSSA proficiency increases in years before COVID but have since declined 5 points post pandemic. District is 12 percent below its 2021-22 math target. Deputy Savage said math must be taught in a way that has students actively thinking throughout the class.
Superintendent Watlingotn says PHLed heard lots of feedback about school admissions specifically shouting out Saul students. Out of the 316 offers sent out 61 responded and 54 of 316 qualified students accepted placements in under enrolled magnets. Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush, Hill-Freedman, and Girl’s High will all lose more than 2 positions due to enrollment issues. According to Watlington it is unusual to have as many vacancies in criteria based schools as there are currently. Watlington said admission changes have led to this level of vacancies.
Joyce Wilkerson says PHLed needs to broaden its special admin investigation. The Accenture school selection report will be out in time for the June meeting. Watlington is confident about the report's help.
Anne Dorn, parent, says the admission program isn't working for most students. She claims that the previous system was a merit basis and suggests stories of kids getting in because of who their parents knew or lobbied were not true. Gill Ronne, parent, suggests drop or lower PSSA requirements especially at schools like saul.
Building 21 and Mitchell have plans to return to in person learning on May 1st. There is no timeline for Frankford. COO Oz Hill says that asbestos is like laundry, you must constantly keep up with it unless you are building a new school. Board Vp Mallory Fix-Lopez critizes asbestos situation.
SW leadership academy charter school
Mardiyatou Sabari SW Leadership Academy Charter School praises the school. Christian Allen-Abrams asks the school board to reverse the decision denying a new GLA charter app. Ma’Nya Robinson GLA west also asks the board to reverse the decision.
JoEl Rohrer of Northwood Academy CS asked for major changes at the school due to a lack of trust in current leadership. Michelle Magnum, Northwood Academy CS parent, echoes the need for major changes at Northwood. Dinorah Walker, another parent, said there are rampant problems at the school including misuse of money. More Northwood parents decrying conditions at school, including Richard Rohrer who said parents are working to suggest a new board.
Ashley Quetant, teacher at Lamberton Es, says the school principal has threatened, screamed at and belittled staff. Staff are not treated with dignity. Sheila Myers, a lamberton teacher, cites unprofessional behavior from the principal including that he threatened to have staff arrested, denied students access to breakfast because the bus was late, and denied basic supplies to staff.
76ers Proposed Stadium
Community members Claire Wan and Alden Dirks have concerns on how the proposed 76ers arena would affect the district.
Want to make your voice heard? You can sign up to testify at the next board meeting. This next meeting will be especially important as the District is deciding on the budget for the next fiscal year.
Remember Election Day is May 16th!
This primary is especially important in Philadelphia as we are electing a new mayor! The mayor has an incredibly important role in Philadelphia education from supporting tax policies that can take money away from Philly schools to choosing the School Board. Check out PA Youth Vote on instagram @payouthvote for more information about how the candidates have talked about students.
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