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Charter school enrollment continues to climb

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

The School Reform Commission voted to approve three new charter schools for opening in fall 2004, including a new high school, while 11 other applications were rejected at a March meeting.

The SRC has also renewed the charters of four of the seven charter schools scheduled for renewal this year.

There are 48 charter schools already operating in Philadelphia. With the new charters and expansion of existing ones, Philadelphia’s charter school enrollment, currently at 25,000, is expected grow by about 1,000 in the coming year. Total charter costs are projected at $187 million.

The new charters approved to open for the 2004-2005 school year are:

  • The Philadelphia Montessori Charter School, in Southwest Philadelphia, which will begin with 144 students in grades K-3 and grow to a total of 216 children in grades pre-K through 6.
  • The New Media Technology Charter High School, in Northwest Philadelphia, which will serve up to 200 students, beginning with 60 ninth graders.
  • The Ad Prima Charter School, which will eventually serve 500 students in grades K-8, beginning with 325 students in grades K-4 this fall.

Two additional new charters were approved last year but postponed their openings until this fall.

Four established schools had their five-year charter renewals confirmed in May: the Franklin Towne Charter High School (grades 9-12), New Foundations Charter School (grades K-8), Nueva Esperanza Academy Charter School (grades 9-12) and Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter School (grades K-8). District CEO Paul Vallas reported, "All four are good-performing charters, and all four have addressed the issues that we raised."

The SRC denied renewal requests from three charters in March, all of which began operating in 2000: Wakisha Charter School, Raising Horizons Quest Charter School, and Mariana Bracetti Academy Charter School. Vallas noted in May that the schools are still in discussions with the District about addressing the problems raised in their renewal reviews and would operate for at least next year.

Meanwhile, the SRC has begun work on a charter school policy, coordinated by Commissioner Daniel Whelan. Whelan said the Commission would develop new procedures for dealing with charters after delineating what factors it should consider in approving or renewing a charter.

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