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New info on provider interest in schools

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

It appears that two of the nine planned Renaissance Schools will have only one choice of potential outside manager, based on new information from the provider proposals about their plans to be suitors for these low-performing schools slated for turnaround.

One of the schools, Smedley, was not specifically mentioned by any of the six providers approved by the District to manage these schools. Another, West Philadelphia High, was specifically cited by just one of the managers.

On Wednesday, the District named six providers to take on the role of manager for the one middle school, one high school, and seven elementary schools slated for "turnaround" starting next fall. School Advisory Councils at the nine schools have until April 30 to recommend a preferred provider, with the final decision to be voted on by the School Reform Commission in May.

ASPIRA and Congreso de Latinos Unidos both expressed interest in managing the same two schools: Potter-Thomas and Stetson. Both are predominantly Latino

Johns Hopkins/Diplomas Now, which specializes in secondary education,cited the one middle school, Stetson, and the only high school, West Philadelphia. No other provider said it wanted to take on West.

Mastery Schools expressed interest in Bluford, Douglass, and Mann, and said it has the capacity and the interest to lead all three schools.

Universal Companies is interested in Bluford, Daroff, Harrity, and Mann, all elementary schools. It did not specify how many it thought it could do.

Young Scholars Charter School expressed interest in running an elementary school, but the application proposal provided by the District to the Notebook did not list any school names. The seven Renaissance elementary schools are Bluford, Daroff, Douglass, Harrity, Mann, Potter-Thomas, and Smedley. It’s unclear from the application whether Young Scholars is interested in more than one school.

The District promises to post the proposals on its website, but the Notebook obtained print copies.

This lack of choice goes against the spirit of the Renaissance Schools program, which Superintendent Arlene Ackerman has touted as a process that will give local communities options in deciding the future direction of their schools and the best plans for overhauling and improving them.