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SRC approves five more charter renewals

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

The School Reform Commission Friday renewed five charter schools and delayed voting on one other.

All of the approved charters made enrollment agreements; four of them are authorized to expand.

The renewed charters are:

  • Franklin Towne Elementary, a K-8 school in the Northeast, which will increase by 130 seats and help relieve overcrowding in the neighborhood.
  • Green Woods Charter, a K-8 school in Northwest Philadelphia, which was previously authorized to expand to 675 students.
  • Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter School in South Philadelphia, which will add 1,400 seats by increasing its K-8 enrollment and adding a high school.
  • Prep Charter, a high school in South Philadelphia, with no expansion.
  • Wissahickon Charter, a K-8 school in East Falls seeking to open a new facility with more than 500 seats.

The SRC delayed a vote pending additional information on the renewal of Southwest Leadership Academy, which has a relatively low School Performance Index score of 7 on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the best). SRC members questioned how the school was "adding value," especially because it was drawing some of its students from District schools with better SPIs.

The SRC is seeking to manage charter school growth by offering renewals only to charters that agree to enrollment caps in writing. This policy follows a court decision that charter schools could expand at will without such a written agreement, which the District says wreaks havoc on its ability to budget and plan.

The District is appealing that decision, involving the Walter D. Palmer Leadership and Learning Charter School, to the state Supreme Court.

The District also is seeking agreements from charters to prioritize certain catchment areas and draw more students from the lowest-performing schools.

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