Passing of Minutes and Update
Facilities Master Plan Update
The meeting began with an update from Paul Kihn on the District's revised school closings list for the Facilities Master Plan. He explained that the District went through a process of reviewing feedback and proposals that stemmed from the community engagement series. Each proposal had been evaluated on a case by case basis, resulting in a refined set of recommendations for the School Reform Commission. Kihn stated that the number of school closings has been modified from 37 to 29. Kihn indicated one rationale for these changes is the student safety and travel concerns. Pedro Ramos added that the entire Facilities Master Plan process dates back to 2010, including the community input that initially came about in reaction to it.
Principal Residency Update
Kate Sobel of The New Teacher Project (TNTP) provided an update on the Compact's Principal Residency program, now known as Philadelphia Pathway to Leadership in Urban Schools (PhillyPLUS):
Sobel then outlined the course design and training plan for PhillyPLUS:
PhillyPLUS has submitted an application to the Pennsylvania Department of Education for certification on February 15th and has received positive feedback on all content. TNTP is on track to have approval and certification for PhillyPLUS within three months.
A month ago, the Common Core working group organized a presentation from McGraw-Hill to discuss their Common Core program with charter representatives to determine if there would be interest in joining on the School District's contract. In this matter, Mark Gleason updated the Compact that the working group was now in the process of reaching out to other curriculum providers to compare costs associated with benchmark alignment.
As a follow-up to last month's Compact discussion, Dr. Shorr expressed a desire to revisit the high-quality seats discussion. Dr. Shorr suggested updating the one-pager initially created last year describing where the Compact Committee is on the District increasing high performing seats and decreasing low-performing seats. Dr. Shorr suggested having it ready by April's Compact Committee Meeting.
Approval of minutes and update.
1. Paul Kihn provided an update of the School District's action plan, circulating a one-page executive summary that highlighted priorities for the School District's employees going forward. The document is considered "version 1.0," in that it will change over time rather than being a set-in-stone five-year strategic plan. The document is a list of items that require improvements centered on academic results and financial sustainability. Kihn highlighted several areas of the document for the Committee, including item 3G: to become a top-quality charter school authorizer; 3H: a commitment to collaborate with other school operators, and under subheading 5: to be truly committed to becoming more attuned to parents as their customers as the District exists to provide quality education to families and to this end the District is committed to providing better services. Casey Carter commented that the District's Action Plan could serve as a table of contents for an action plan for any school operator at the table. He asked if there was anything Faith In The Future could do to be helpful to the District with regard to Strategy 5E: empowering parents with information and provide to parents information that the District does not ordinarily have available. Kihn indicated that this was an open question and worth a formal investigation.
2. Casey Carter provided the Compact Committee with an update on the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC). Carter explained that OSTC will serve as the single largest stream of new money to Archdiocese schools. The biggest hurdle for the Archdiocese is having corporations understand that they can re-direct their tax monies to OSTC. Carter also stated that the state has allocated $50 million in OSTC funding and it is Faith in the Future's goal to have 75% of that go to Philadelphia Archdiocese schools. Joe Dworetzky then asked if a corporation has a say in which schools their money goes to. Carter answered that they may; though, typically money enters an organization like Children's Scholarship Fund which then allocates monies to Archdiocese schools for scholarships. Dr. Shorr suggested that the Compact re-visit how many kids were in low-performing seats two years ago and one year ago, then look to see if OSTC is a way to move more kids into high performing seats without costing the District. Mark Gleason pointed out there is an added nuance that of eight city Catholic high schools, three are all-girls and two are all-boys schools. There is an opportunity for any student wait-listed at Girls' High to consider applying to a girls-only Catholic school.
3. Dr. Shorr began the discussion of Cyber Charters by stating that when the Great Schools Compact was first convened, cyber charters were not part of the conversation. However, now is the time for the conversation to begin to include cyber charters and to see how they play into the principles of the Compact, especially as enrollment in cyber charters is rising each year. Michael Wilson explained that there were 17 cyber schools; however one has voluntarily surrendered its charter following an investigation by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. An additional cyber charter will close at the end of this year as well. Dr. Shorr added that the next step would be to discuss quality metrics and how to determine what constitutes a high quality cyber charter seat and how to communicate it to parents.
Action Items for Next Compact Meeting
Approval of minutes and update.
1. General Announcements: Dr. Lori Shorr began the meeting by introducing Casey Carter, CEO of Faith in the Future, who will be serving as the representative for the Archdiocese on the Compact Committee. She then turned the floor to Paul Kihn, who provided the Committee with an update on the District's recent school closings announcement.
2. School Closings Announcement
Kihn provided an overview of the recommendations the District made to the School Reform Commission (SRC), which included 37 facilities closures. Kihn stated that the facilities recommendations are a first step to addressing the District's dire financial condition. Kihn informed the Committee that he has received reports that the closing announcements have caused families to call charter operators to discuss enrollment alternatives. Kihn stated that the District now has 53,000 seats open due to families moving primarily toward the Charter sector. With the school closures the District would be able to redirect spending and make deeper investments in improving education quality in order to draw some families back into District seats. To that end, the District is putting together teams of "school account managers" at each school that will create an action plan to guide improvements in school quality.
3. Principal Leadership Academy
Miles Wilson provided the Compact Committee with an update from the Principal Leadership Academy Working Group. He explained that multiple organizations were engaged by the working group to develop proposals for a Philadelphia-based principal development academy. Wilson outlined the numerous strengths and weaknesses of the organizations' proposals and in the end summarized the working group's analysis: all organizations enjoy stellar reputations for their work in teacher training and are known nationally and respected by school operators locally. Though the organizations have no experience in creating or operating a principal academy, they demonstrate the capacity to engage in the work in a thoughtful and effective manner. It is the working group's recommendation that the Compact Committee enter into a partnership with TNTP as it is thought that they are more collaborative and their customized design process is more likely to yield an end product that works for the variety of school providers represented in the Compact. Paul Kihn added that the District is looking for good, high-quality principals and urged that the Committee go with the program proposed by TNTP and consider other options. The thinking being that after the first round of principals, go with whichever is considered the better of all the options. Mark Gleason explained that though it is preferred to go with multiple programs, the limitation is funding. The goal, Gleason stated, is to have multiple programs over 2-3 years but to do TNTP first.
4. Common Core Alignment
Miles Wilson updated the Compact Committee on the Common Core Alignment working group, a stream of work that the Gates Foundation will support financially. The working group coordinated a meeting with charter operators across Philadelphia and representatives from McGraw-Hill to share information related to common core alignment and the various tools operators could take advantage of through Acuity. After the presentation charter operators had the opportunity to ask questions regarding Acuity and express interest in "piggy-backing" off the District's contract with McGraw-Hill to achieve benchmark alignment to the Common Core. Operators, if interested, were provided two options: if operators do not have the resources or know-how, they could use benchmarks already created by the District; if charter operators do have the resources and know-how they have the option to craft their own benchmark assessments. Wilson informed the Committee that there were approximately 30 charter operators present and that all expressed interest in utilizing McGraw-Hill to get aligned. The majority of charter operators stated that they would be most interested in crafting their own benchmark assessments, independent of the District. Feedback from the charter operators is that though charters are still wary about having a relationship with the District, they did appreciate the District's willingness to partner with charter schools in this initiative. Next Steps: McGraw-Hill will provide a tiered proposal to PSP regarding the cost associated with charters joining the District's Common Core alignment contract.
Passing of Minutes and Update
1. Dr. Lori Shorr called the meeting to order at 1:40pm. Miles Wilson provided an update regarding potential partners for creating an Urban Leadership Academy for Philadelphia. Wilson also informed the committee that two organizations are still in the running highlighted the similarities and differences between the two. One organization would offer an off-the-shelf product that would have the program up and running much faster than the other, but with limited opportunity for customization. Alternatively, the other organization would take longer to get up and running, but offers the opportunity for customization of the program, crafting the model from promising practices of the various school types represented on the committee. Wilson informed the committee that the leadership academy working group will be having an additional meeting in the coming weeks to further engage both groups. The idea being that a final recommendation for partner in the creation of the academy would soon follow. In addition, Wilson explained that PSP has engaged KIPP in expanding its Emerging Leaders program with additional slots that could be available to potential candidates from District, catholic and other charter schools. Mark Gleason explained that the KIPP program would help build a pipeline of potential school leaders who could then enter into the principal leadership academy. Dr. Naomi Booker cited her prior experience in a similar principal development program at a local university and emphasized the importance of creating a program that would prepare candidates to lead schools of all types. Dr. Booker stated that the philosophy and methodology of being a charter school principal and a District school principal, at times, are different. Mark Gleason stated that the working group will keep that point in mind during the vetting process.
Paul Kihn stated that the District is committed to weighing-in on the Compact's proposed changes to the accountability framework so a recommendation can be forwarded to the SRC for consideration in the near-term. Kihn stated that the District is trying to avoid moving through numerous interregnums of the SPI year-to-year because it prevents proper comparisons and quality decisions on what school accountability looks like going forward.
Mark Gleason suggested that Superintendent Hite communicate to the Compact's accountability working group the District's priorities for future iterations of the SPI and let the working group create a new proposal to address those priorities.
3. Education First Compact
Dr. Shorr went over the proposed agenda and talking points for the Compact Committee's presentation to the Education First Compact.
4. Gates Foundation Update
Mark Gleason updated the Committee on the December 5th press conference of the Gates Foundation's funding decisions for Compact cities. Vicki Philips, Don Shalvey and Adam Tucker will be in attendance on behalf of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Larry Jones suggested that the charter community convene bimonthly meetings to discuss issues on how it can best work together as a community. These meetings would be open to anyone willing to participate.
Approval of minutes and update.
1. Dr. Lori Shorr began the meeting by informing the Compact that the national Gates’ award announcements will be hosted in Philadelphia on December 5, 2012, in which Philadelphia is still a possible recipient. Additionally, she reported that the School District will be partnering with Harvard Fellows on several projects, one of which will be invigorating intermediate unit 26 for purchasing office supplies, recycling and energy purchasing, to start. Dr. Shorr expressed the need for bringing charter operators and the archdiocese into meetings to discuss how best to strategize around the invigoration effort and the inclusion of both entities to recognize better economies of scale. Miles Wilson explained that the Great Schools Compact has a Shared Services working group that can assist with policy building.
2. Paul Kihn briefly explained the District’s organizational chart that was made public. Kihn stated that the chart is transitional in nature and should only be effective until mid-January 2013 while the District is undergoing re-organization. Kihn also stated that the District’s Office of Charter Schools is currently utilizing NACSA Fellows to help with policy work for a period of time.
3. Michelle Siletto of the Pennsylvania Department of Education and Bob Shinsky from Performance Learning Systems provided update of the proposed Pennsylvania School Performance Profile website, which would provide easy-to-find and transparent academic performance outcomes of all public schools in the state.
4. Miles Wilson provided a Universal Enrollment working group update, presenting enrollment forms from the PA DOE and a local CMO for Compact members to review. The goal was to identify an “intent to enroll” form that could be raised as a best practice for charter operators to opt into, lessening the barriers for enrollment for parents and caregivers during the school selection process. Both forms requested very basic student information and were one page. Both Larry Jones and Courtney Collins-Shapiro indicated that the simplified form would still need to include information on siblings, as siblings get preference in enrollment as well as acknowledging Act 26 – in which a parent states that their student is not currently under an expulsion or suspension can be legally enrolled in their school of choice. Dr. Shorr recommended having an ad hoc working group come together to come up with the most efficient and fair common enrollment application possible to be circulated for review and feedback.
To unite a common application under a common deadline, it was suggested that the second week in January be held for deadlines to apply to an elementary school; whereas the mid-month or last week of February be reserved for high school application deadlines in order to make applying to schools easier for parents.
5. The Committee agreed to provide charter school operators and catholic schools access to the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management call with the School District of Philadelphia in order to streamline the information sharing process across all school systems during weather emergencies.
6. For the upcoming December 6th Education First Compact meeting, the Compact Committee agreed to have several representatives – Dr. Shorr, a charter school rep, a District rep, an Archdiocese rep, and a rep from the Philadelphia School Partnership present for information sharing.
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