At the SRC
At September’s School Reform Commission meetings, Commissioner Sandra Dungee Glenn assumed the role of chair, and the SRC approved the following:
-A $250,000 authorization to continue the Accountability Review Council (ARC).
The nine-member ARC, established after the state takeover, is charged with monitoring student achievement within the School District and reporting its findings. This school year, the ARC is in turn contracting with the RAND Corporation to support a study of charter school performance in Philadelphia.
-The hiring of interim Chief Academic Officer Cassandra Jones on a consultant basis.
Jones is being hired at a rate of $231,394 annually through a contract with her firm Next Step Associates. The contract runs through July 31, 2008.
-The authorization of $813,217 in contracts with ten community-based organizations to provide truancy prevention services.
This ATIPS (Attendance Truancy Intervention/Prevention) initiative, supporting parent truant officers, is contingent on the expected receipt of funding for the program by city government.
-A $1,580,000 grant acceptance from the U.S. Department of Defense to support the JROTC program.
The grant partially funds the military program in Philadelphia high schools, with the District also chipping in over $1 million. The bulk of the funding goes to support U.S. Army programs in 16 high schools. Supporters laud it as a leadership development program, while critics emphasize its role in military recruitment.
-Contract authorizations for $2.3 million in materials for the District’s extended day program.
This year’s program is expected to serve 20,000 students in grades 1-9. The largest vendors include Harcourt Inc., Benchmark Education, and Holt Rhinehart Winston. The District had previously contracted with Princeton Review for as much as $3 million annually for extended day materials.
Also at the September 19 SRC meeting, 50 students from Youth United for Change protested the postponement of a long-awaited commitment to hire a developer to build a new Kensington High School. The high school has been divided into small schools, and the promised new building would house the Kensington High School for Creative and Performing Arts.