This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
In a departure from its process during the first year of the Renaissance initiative, the District has already assigned each of the schools to one of four turnaround models, including two new variations on the District-managed Promise Academy model.
‘Traditional’ Promise Academies
‘Innovation’ Promise Academies
Promise Neighborhood Partnership Schools
Renaissance Charter (Match) Schools
Unlike "Traditional Promise Academies," which are required to replace at least 50 percent of their staffs as well as principals who have been in the school for more than two years, the three new "Innovation" Promise Academies will have no limits on the percentage of staff that can be retained, and their principals will remain in place.
While Promise Neighborhood Partnership Schools – Audenried and Vare – are described as a variation of the Promise Academy model, staff will be hired and employed by a charter management organization – Universal Companies – as part of the Promise Neighborhood initiative just launched in South Philadelphia.
The Renaissance charter schools will be the only ones out of the four models to go through a matching process where the School Advisory Council chooses a provider from a list of approved managers to convert the school to charter status.
Criteria for assigning Renaissance Schools did not strictly follow the School Performance Index (SPI), which was the basis for the assignments last year. Academic chief David Weiner said factors in addition to SPI that played a role in the selection included the schools’ dropout rate, AYP status, school climate data, teacher attrition, feeder pattern, and neighborhood characteristics.
The District says it will hold informational meetings for parents and the community at the affected schools between January 31 and February 17.
District officials said they could not guarantee that teachers displaced from Renaissance Schools would have positions in the District next year. No new teachers will be hired until teachers with seniority are placed.
The Inquirer is reporting on reaction to the Promise Academy announcement at South Philadelphia High School, where things had been settling down after a turbulent year.