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Six providers to vie for Renaissance schools

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

Six organizations have sought and received the District’s stamp of approval to vie for contracts to manage one or more schools in the first cohort of nine Renaissance Schools effective next fall.

There are no surprises in the approved providers: ASPIRA, Inc., of Pennsylvania; Congreso de Latinos Unidos; Johns Hopkins/Diplomas Now; Mastery Charter Schools; Universal Companies; and Young Scholars Charter School.

These were the same six entities that made it through the District’s preliminary screening process for potential turnaround managers. All six submitted full proposals late last month and now have had them approved.

All are nonprofits. Johns Hopkins/Diplomas Now, based in Baltimore, is the only one that is not local, and also is the only entity that has indicated it wants to operate its schools as part of the School District rather than as independent charter schools.

School Advisory Councils, recently convened at the nine Renaissance Schools will now have but 17 days to settle on a recommendation about which provider is the best fit for their school.

The final decision on the school-provider matches, however, will rest with Superintendent Ackerman and the School Reform Commission. The District’s latest release says only that the SRC vote on assigning schools to providers is expected to be in May.

District spokesperson Fernando Gallard said the full proposals from the six providers, minus any confidential financial information, have been forwarded to members of the councils and will soon be posted on the District website. Providers were asked to identify which of the "Renaissance Eligible" schools they are interested in managing.

In addition to the nine schools to be assigned to outside providers, five other Renaissance Schools will be under the direction of Superintendent Arlene Ackerman as Promise Academies.