SHCA Education Committee Meeting with Philadelphia School District Representative Karyn Lynch
On Friday, February 7, 2014, the SHCA Education Committee met with Philadelphia School District Representative Karyn Lynch, who is a member of Superintendent Hite’s Executive Team. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Penn Alexander School kindergarten lottery and wait list, to encourage increased transparency about district based policies and enrollment statistics, and to encourage an overall more proactive partnership between the community and the School District with respect to both short term and long term Penn Alexander enrollment policies. Because this is a matter of great importance and interest to our community, we wanted to share a summary of the discussion. The topics were:
- Wait list and current enrollment.
- Enrollment Capacity
- Future Collaboration with the Community
Download full report
Letter to Dr Hite, RE PAS Lottery
January 16, 2014
Via Email and US Mail
Dr. William R. Hite, Jr.
The School District of Philadelphia
440 N. Broad Street Philadelphia PA 19130
Re: Penn Alexander School Admissions Lottery
Dear Dr. Hite:
I write on behalf of the Spruce Hill Community Association (SHCA) Board of Directors regarding the School District of Philadelphia’s decision to continue to enroll kindergarten children at the Penn Alexander School (PAS) by lottery.
By way of reminder, SHCA is a volunteer organization of neighbors committed to strengthening the Spruce Hill community and enhancing the quality of neighborhood life for all residents. Our Board and our officers are elected annually by our members, which include hundreds of neighborhood families. PAS is the neighborhood school for the lion’s share of Spruce Hill, and indeed, SHCA was instrumental in foundation of the school, which has grown to be an important educational, cultural, and economic institution for the Spruce Hill Community.
The SHCA Board only recently became aware that the District has decided to extend last year’s “pilot” lottery to the next school year. As an initial matter, we continue to be disappointed that decisions about PAS enrollment and policies relating to PAS admissions are routinely made behind closed doors, without input from the community or any transparency into the decision-making process. The School District claims to “recognize[ ] the importance of a strong community through which partnerships can be created and neighborhoods can thrive” and has promised to “be[ ] a good neighbor and communicat[e] items that may impact your neighborhood.”
But these principles have been completely absent with respect to PAS enrollment. Indeed, there are few items that have impacted our neighborhood as significantly as PAS’s shifting enrollment policies, yet the District has shown no willingness to partner with or meaningfully communicate to the community about this issue. Rather, we seem to always learn about policy changes after they are made and are forced to have only reactive, instead of proactive, involvement.
Second, as mentioned in previous communications, it is SHCA’s expectation that every effort should be made to ensure that all eligible children living within the catchment be admitted to PAS. We would like an opportunity to dialogue with you about how to make this happen. We believe that, at a neighborhood school, a lottery that separates siblings and neighbors based on an arbitrary game of chance should be (at best) an absolute last resort admission tool, not a standard enrollment policy.
We would like an opportunity to discuss these issues with you as soon as possible. We will be contacting you by phone in the near future to set up a face-to-face meeting.
SHCA Director and Education Committee Chair
cc (all via email)
Evelyn Sample-Oates, Chief of Family and Community Engagement, SDP
Karyn Lynch, Chief of Student Services, SDP
Amy Gutmann, President, University of Pennsylvania
Craig Carnaroli, Executive Vice President, University of Pennsylvania.
Jeffrey Cooper, VP Government and Community Affair, University of Pennsylvania
Sheila Sydnor, Principal, Penn Alexander School
Ann Kreidle, Planning Coordinator, Penn Alexander School
Rep. James R. Roebuck, Jr.
Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell
The Penn Alexander School Advisory Council
The SHCA Board of Directors
SHCA Annual Election
The membership will hold its annual meeting and election this year at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12.
It will be at a new location – in the auditorium of the recently opened University City Chinese Christian Church at 4501 Walnut St. (Come and see what a great job the church has done in rescuing this property that stood empty and unfinished for so long.)
The Nominating Committee of the SHCA Board of Directors has recommended the following slate:
- Monica Calkins – president.
- Andy Cole – executive vice president.
- Mark Wagenveld – vice president (operations).
- Marie McCullough – secretary
- Judy Powers – treasurer.
Ten seats on the 20-member board are up this year. The Nominating Committee is recommending five newcomers and five incumbents.
The newcomers are: Sylvia Hamerman-Brown, Haven Henderson, Brennan Maier, Mary Ellen McCarty, and Andrew Richman.
The five incumbents are: Monica Ferguson, Rich Guffanti, Lee Huang, Justin McDaniel, and Pamala Williams-Diaby.
Leaving are the current president, Andy Lochrie, and board members Bob Behr, Monica Calkins (to run for president), Anne Froehling, Matt Wolfe and Mark Young. Thanks to all for their service to the community!
Under the bylaws, independent candidates may also run. They must have a petition signed by at least 10 SHCA members and present it to the Nominating Committee two weeks prior to the annual meeting. That would be Tuesday, Oct. 29.
Officers serve one-year terms and board members serve two-year terms.
– The Nominating Committee (Marie McCullough,
Sue MacQueen, Cindy Roberts and Mark Wagenveld, chair).
What new retail would you most like to see in Spruce Hill?
By Lee Huang, Chair, Business Attraction Committee
Retail is an important part of a neighborhood’s sense of vitality, safety, and identity. Where people choose to shop is, of course, a personal decision, as is where merchants choose to locate, what they choose to sell, and how they choose to keep up their storefronts. However, we make better choices when we are better informed: about what’s out there to buy, about what people want to buy, and about how our choices have an impact on others and on the neighborhood and world in which we live.
The Spruce Hill Community Association (SHCA) Business Association Committee ( BAC ) was formed this year to do three things in support of SHCA’s efforts to improve the quality of life in our neighborhood.
- First, we try to keep an ear to the pulse of what the neighborhood wants and doesn’t want in terms of storefronts.
- Second, we seek to be a point of contact for developers, landlords, and businesses who want to know what the neighborhood thinks and wants.
- Third, we actively network with other neighborhood-serving groups that are trying to do the same kinds of things.
One of our first official actions is to conduct a survey of retail preferences. You can complete this 10-question survey online or email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a copy. Please participate so we can best understand your interests and opinions. And please consider joining SHCA and/or BAC if you are interested in helping out on this issue. Thank you in advance for your consideration.
Halloween Tot Parade Thursday, Oct. 31
Spruce Hill’s annual Halloween costume parade for little kids will be held again this year.
The date is Thursday, Oct. 31 (no rain date).
As it has for the last several years, the parade will start gathering after 4 p.m. on 45th
St. just north of Baltimore Ave. (next to Milk and Honey).
The kick-off time is 4:30 p.m., when marchers, led by drummers from the Penn marching band, will go north on 45th
to Larchwood Ave., down to 43rd
St., and then on to the 4200 block of Osage. There the block residents will welcome them – as always – with cider and goodies and some amazing Halloween decorations.
The University City District will be assisting in directing traffic around the parade route. Parents, please be alert while crossing Baltimore Ave. and other busy streets.
Parking on the 4200 block of Osage will be restricted Thursday afternoon to accommodate the parade. Overnight parkers will be able to get their spots once the clean up is done and all the ghosts and goblins are safely home.
Baltimore Avenue at 43rd St: Now and Then
- A "conditional" zoning permit has been issued for development of 92 units of
housing at 43rd and Baltimore as a matter of right under current zoning (Rm1).
- There is no requirement for parking in Rm1 zoning.
- Neither Spruce Hill Community Association not its zoning committee
had any involvement, since the proposal did not require Zoning Board of Adjustment
- The property owners have designated local developers to engage the
community in discussions about alternative plans for development at the site before
moving forward with their issued permit. The developers have created a website to help facilitate the community engagement.
Spruce Hill Community Vision
Spruce Hill launched a Planning Process in conjunction with the city’s remapping and rezoning of lower southwest Philadelphia in order to help shape the outcome. A “Visioning Statement” and a set of “Placemaking Principles” emerged from a public workshop attended by some 90 area residents on the 13th of this past December. Conducted by a professional planner the workshop provided a preliminary road map for additional discussion at the next open planning session scheduled for Wednesday, February 27th, 6:30pm at the Wilson Student Center of the University of the Sciences. The outcome of that session will shape a new plan for Spruce Hill over the years to come.