Board of Education Makes Strides in its First Action Meeting to Accelerate the School District of Philadelphia

Posted on May 30, 2024
Categories: News, Press Releases

This evening marked the first Action Meeting of the Philadelphia Board of Education with a new slate of Board Members, led by Board President Reginald L. Streater, Esq. The nine-member board, appointed by Mayor Cherelle Parker, has been in place since May 2024.

“This Board of Education, made up of both new and veteran Members, has hit the ground running,” said President Streater. “We are thrilled to get straight to work to support every child in the School District of Philadelphia.”

As part of this evening’s meeting, the Board reviewed and voted on key Action Items, including the District’s proposed FY25 Operating and Capital Budgets. Both are designed to deliver on strategic investments from Accelerate Philly, the School District of Philadelphia’s five-year strategic plan to improve student outcomes and achieve the Board’s Goals & Guardrails.

Key Action Items from the meeting include, but are not limited to:

At its core, the FY25 Operating Budget is designed to support implementation of Accelerate Philly and its five distinct pillars: improve safety and well-being, partner with families and community, accelerate academic achievement, recruit and retain diverse and highly effective educators, and deliver efficient, high-quality, cost-effective operations. That includes piloting a year-round and extended-day school calendar, relaunching Parent University, recruiting more Black and Latino male teachers and principals, and purchasing and implementing standards-aligned core instructional resources for English Language Arts (ELA)

Adoption of the FY25 Operating Budget will also allow the District to prioritize stakeholder engagement and fiscal responsibility. In addition to a focus on partner engagement, the budget provides for protections to school budgets, opportunities to advocate for additional funding to prevent a structural deficit, and mutually-beneficial labor agreements that fairly compensate employees.

One of the District’s overarching priorities is improving safety and well-being, in part by providing safe, quality environments for students to learn and play. The approved Capital Improvement Plan invests $3.3 billion over six years into school buildings across the District. Among the largest investments are new construction and major renovations, along with HVAC, electrical, and energy performance improvements. The plan also allows for additional security equipment, minor renovations, and improvement projects as needed.

In order to bolster funds for needed improvements to facilities, the Board voted to apply for Federal Facilities Improvement (“FFI”) Grants of up to $20,000,000. If awarded, FFI Grants will provide the District with funds to perform upgrades, renovations and repairs to the exteriors and interiors of the schools to give the teachers and students a better teaching and learning environment. The scope of the qualifying projects would include, but would not be limited to: roof replacement, full mechanical system replacement, and structural repairs.

The Board approved a contract with Center for Black Educator Development (CBED) in the amount of $369,000 to implement Freedom Schools Literacy Academies at various schools. The program helps to address summer learning loss with a five-week in-person summer program based around developing a context of understanding culture. During the summer of 2024, up to 180 rising 1st through 3rd-grade students and up to 18 high school students will participate as scholars and apprentices. The program will take place at Bethune, WD Kelley, and Duckrey Elementary Schools and participation will be open to all District students.

Reading is a bedrock skill for success in school, college, the workplace, and life. Studies show students’ higher racial-ethnic pride correlates with higher achievement as measured by grades and standardized test scores. They also show that when Black students have Black teachers, they do better in school. The Freedom Schools Literacy Academy integrates proven best practices with a culturally responsive, affirming, and sustaining early-literacy curriculum that is aligned with the District’s Academic Framework.

The Board approved a contract with JEVS Human Services (JEVS) in the amount of $350,000 to provide services and support for student internships and stipends. JEVS will support the District’s summer programming for high school students by coordinating internships for up to 200 Career Technical Education (CTE) students.

Work experiences are a critical first introduction to the world of work. The District, through the District’s Internship Program, endeavors to provide students with meaningful work-based learning and academic enrichment experiences that promote self-efficacy, connect youth to caring adults, and offer the opportunity to build transferable skills required to secure and sustain employment. The Internship Program is an extension of the CTE curriculum that students learn throughout the school year. This opportunity allows students to receive real-life hands-on experiences that cannot be learned in the classroom. The experience will permit students to utilize the content of their classroom curriculum in a practical setting. These opportunities include positions in District buildings with District personnel, local businesses, and academic enrichment/industry certification programs.

“I am thrilled with the outcome of our first Action Meeting. We took a big leap in reinforcing our commitment to students in Philadelphia, and I thank all of our Members for rolling up their sleeves and approving measures that will aid in accelerating our public school system,” said President Streater.