I'll be sharing informal posts from Educon throughout this weekend.
Chris spoke of Friday's events. The students of SLA had planned presentations for months, which were to be given to early attendees on Friday. At 7:00 a.m., Chris sent out the news that Friday would be a snow day, and school would be closed. By 7:01 a.m., students were texting Chris to ask "what do we need to do?" More than 100 students showed up to make their presentations.
Chris: the goal of the weekend is to set ourselves up to innovate. He challenges us to CONNECT - it's a challenging and exciting time to be an educator; we need to connect with like-minded, dedicated, passionate educators to renew ourselves to face the challenges ahead.
He challenges us to LEARN - deeply, from each of the sessions. Take time to reflect on it. Walk out of hear Sunday with a plan, so that Educon lives beyond Sunday and the walls of this building. Learn, and develop a plan for change.
Saturday morning kicked off with a keynote speech by Leroy Nunery, Deputy Superintendent, School District of Philadelphia.
Leroy: Educon is not a conference - it's more like a "revival." Strong spirit to it.
Budget issues we are facing right now are the scariest of our lifetime. This is being seen across the country. Low or no growth in revenue, federal ARRA stimulus is going away. We do not regret spending the stimulus to save jobs and make investments - that's what stimulus is.
Like many districts across the country, we are looking at our Master Plan; we realize we have 70,000 unfilled seats, due to demographic shifts and no population growth in Philadelphia. Many of our buildings are decades old, with deferred maintenance issues. How do we adjust our physical facilities to create better learning environments for our students?
Half our high school students cross the city, using public transportation, to a school of their liking. The Master Plan is to make it easier for students to find what they want closer to home, including through the use of technology.
What we face as a public entity is what private businesses face: competition. There are many charter and private schools in Philadelphia, and their numbers are growing. "Cyber Charters" are growing rapidly, enabling students to learn from home. A "Blended Environment" is emerging, where students will learn, at least in part, from home.
What's the value of what you provide? Compared to what's out there privately. We need to establish our value proposition, justify it to the public and policymakers.
Enrollment has dropped 10,000 since 2006, projected to drop another 10,000 by 2016, to 145,000. 70,000 empty seats right now - enough to fill Lincoln Field (football stadium).
"Imagine 2014" - extensive discussion with the public on "must have" needs for schools. The public loves the opportunity to have input. You often hear that schools should cut the arts, music, foreign language, athletics. Yet these are mentioned most when the public is asked what schools need. Security and comfort also ranks high - clean bathrooms, security cameras, green spaces and playgrounds. Series of workships around the city in the next two weeks.
Consolidation presents opportunities. Resource efficiencies, program realignment, service alignment, and program enhancement. Stop hiding behind bureaucracy.
Program realignment - try to match school curriculum to the marketplace. Are we generating too many chefs, and not enough specialists in biotechnology and agriculture?
What do we do?
Optimize opportunities - consolidate underutilized facilities, collaborate with other districts (500 in PA!), institutions, corporations, leverage best practices.
Can education reform? Hyundai, Subaru, VW are proof you can.
Create Centers of Excellence that leverage existing competencies, existing know-how and existing space.
We need to re-think how we use space. Individualize learning.
What is the value of a seat? Instructional costs - teachers, materials, admin staff. Non-instructional costs: facilities, utilities, maintenace staff, transportation, community and neighborhood impact. He wants communities to be proud of their neighborhood schools, and for the local kids to want to go to their local school.
Definition of a "Quality Seat."
SchoolNet Instructional Management System gives one-stop real-time access to all student data for admins, teachers and parents.
Trying to be creative, find best of breed content partners.
How do we attract the best teachers to Philadelphia and have them ready to teach? Attrition is also an issue. Lure of suburban schools - safer, quieter.
Current Status of Classrooms: 4,000 upgraded classrooms with interactive whiteboard, projectors, teachers with computers.
SDP STEM Education Programs - decrease the opportunity gap and increase the STEM pipeline. How do we replicate SLA? How do we show our students they don't need to leave city schools to learn STEM?
Working with U Penn, Franklin Institute, Temple.
STEM Classrooms, STEM Clubs, Integrated STEM courses.
Out of school programs. Collaborate with professionals and industry. Help them find local talent.
Mobile lab equipment.
Mark Moran, CEO