In June of 2011 the Philadelphia School District announced that its spending was under control; that they were in financial trouble not because of their spending as was the case in previous years, but because of budget cuts.
District officials then made the determination that they would trim the central office by half even though it would only save them $53 million. Yes that’s what they said. City Council then countered back offering the same $53 million from the city’s taxpayers. So instead of getting an extra $106 million they settled on $53 million.
In September of 2011 it was learned that the same school district who cried poverty and claimed that their spending was under control also was hiring outside law firms to do business with them even though they had attorneys employed by the district.
It was further uncovered that former SRC Chairman Robert Archie’s law firm as well as future SRC Chairman Pedro Ramos’ law firm also did business with the district as outside attorneys. In addition to this taxpayers learned that The Children’s First Fund which is supposed to have been raising money for the school district had board members working for these same law firms; that the school district has paid these law firms millions of dollars and the law firms.
In 2011 it was estimated that the school district would spend over $2 million dollars on law firms not employed by the district and $3 million for those who work for the district.
This month the examiner reported that despite crying poverty (still) and laying off essential personnel like counselors, nurses, classroom aides, librarians, and assistant principals Superintendent Hite and his band of merry buffoons had eight job postings for the central office despite the fact that over the summer he claimed to have been laying off more staff from the central office. These are high paying jobs of at least $60,000 per year.
So much for having your spending under control.
Now it seems that the SRC is at it again.
In January of this year Mayor Nutter put advocate, parent and former school district employee Sylvia Simms on the board of the SRC stating that he felt that Simms would be a good addition because she understood the importance of educating children.
What Mayor Nutter, Dr. Hite and SRC Chairman Pedro Ramos neglected to tell the tax- payers is everything they knew about Simms which is considerable.
Prior to being hired the three men knew that she founded Parent Power and that organization received a $7,500 contract in July of 2012 from the Philadelphia School Partnership an organization which promotes the expansion of charter schools. These are the same charter schools that the school district had to give $10 million when they got their money from the city and state.
The Philadelphia School Partnership also works or attempts to control the teacher’s union.
Ms. Simms was hired to look after the best interests of the school district and she was somehow able to convince Nutter, Hite and Ramos that her foundation would be able to get parents involved in discussions regarding education. She hasn’t quite been able to make that jump shot yet.
As a member of the SRC Simms holds the power of her vote which can benefit the Philadelphia School Partnership and key factors of the nature of SRC’s business which conflicts with the organization’s agenda that includes, but is not limited to the closing of schools, concessions from the PFT and to restrict the growth of the charter schools.
In April of 2012 Chief Recovery Officer Thomas Knudsen proposed a Transformation Blueprint which the Philadelphia School Partnership was part of a group sent to get support for Knudsen’s proposal because it had not been well received in the community. The organization didn’t have any support in the community for a proposal which was extremely unpopular. They asked Simms foundation to get involved to build support.
Not only did Ramos know about this, but he was part of the group that worked to get the support.
Hite, Nutter and Ramos were aware that Simms’ foundation was also connected to former Superintendent Arlene Ackerman who through her personal communications team was able to recruit certain organizations which included Simms to promote her agenda. To this end these groups received compensation from the communication team for disrupting meetings and by protesting outside with signs that Ackerman’s team had made.
As of this date the Philadelphia School Partnership, Simms and Parent Power continue to work together. It was these three entities that asked Hite to eliminate teacher seniority. In August Simms followed through with her directive and voted against rehiring laid off teachers based on seniority.
Although in America anything can happen it’s a little suspicious that a bus attendant for 15 years can climb the corporate ladder so effectively. Simms is now working for the Urban Affairs Coalition to organize the Internet Essentials program to reach the poor families in Philadelphia as well as being able to yield so much power within the SRC; power which is apparently for sale or at least for rent.
Mayor Nutter and Superintendent Hite since you’re hard at work developing that whole 100% transparency thing please list what everyone’s price is in City Council and the SRC on your individual websites. This way people will know whether or not they can afford to buy their votes.