Dear Masterman Community,

Thanks to everyone who came to our mission/vision meeting with Dr. Payne last night in the library. This event, jointly organized with SAC, provided an opportunity to hear Dr. Payne’s ideas about the future of Masterman. We will share a copy of Dr. Payne’s presentation in the coming days, and we will follow up on these ideas and the comments expressed, with opportunity for further discussion. 

I also want to provide everyone with a summary of our meeting with Superintendent Watlington and Board President Streater, which took place at 440 N Broad Street this morning from 8:00 to 9:30 am. We had a very productive meeting! Dr. Watlington underscored his strong commitment to magnet schools in Philadelphia and Masterman in particular. He is organizing an external review of the lottery selection process and a new strategic plan, including for magnet schools. HSA VP Leon McCrea will serve on the parental advisory group for the strategic plan. We are optimistic that 440 understands our concerns and is going to work with the Masterman community to maintain excellence at the school in the near and long term.

Masterman HSA was represented at the meeting today by President Mitchell Orenstein, Vice Presidents Kimberly Guise and Leon McCrea, and Outreach Chair Sam Vitiello. The District was represented by Superintendent Watlington, Board President Streater, Deputy Superintendent ShaVon Savage, Assistant Superintendent Ted Domers, Associate Superintendent Tomás Hanna, and Chief of Staff Sarah Galbally. We presented the report (which Streater and Domers had read and annotated), a one-page summary of our key discussion points, and a binder with all comments submitted through various surveys. 

Our discussion covered the following topics: the District’s review of the lottery selection process, the superintendent’s support for magnet schools, locational as well as demographic diversity (zip codes), specific problems of “pathway” schools (like us, with MS and HS), solutions to current school-level issues (like the ones raised last night, such as maintaining music and art), and children excluded from all magnet schools (whom I call the “lost children”; we have eight at Masterman this year).

Dr. Watlington stated his strong support for magnet schools, pointed out that he had run four of North Carolina’s top five in his previous district, and emphasized that talents are distributed equally across demographic groups and therefore we need to provide equitable access to our top schools. Board President Streater emphasized that locational diversity also matters in inclusion/exclusion. 

We agreed to several follow-ups. HSA leadership will meet with Assistant Superintendent Ted Domers next week to discuss issues of current concern. Board President Streater asked Masterman HSA to organize a meeting with him and representatives from other “pathway” schools to better understand their specific problems in the selection process. We will also follow up with information on a variety of issues discussed. 

We came away from the meeting with a sense that the District is evaluating the selection process in a deliberate manner, is seriously considering major changes, and has read and understood our issues and taken them into account. They wish to follow up on the special problems of “pathway” schools that include middle and high school. We are deeply grateful to all those who contributed to creating this report, which I believe will make a major impact on the District's deliberations. We urge you to read and consider it, and provide any feedback on this form

Yours truly, 

Mitchell Orenstein

Masterman HSA President

Read the Report
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