This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
While the District says it is not entertaining any requests from charter schools for enrollment increases this year, the city’s charter sector continues to grow.
At a May 15 School Reform Commission meeting, two new Renaissance elementary schools were assigned to outside providers for turnaround. Pastorius in East Germantown will be managed by Mastery Charter Schools and Kenderton in North Philadelphia by Scholar Academies. Each school was matched with the provider that was recommended by the majority of its School Advisory Council members, officials said.
Action was delayed on a school manager for Alcorn Elementary in Grays Ferry, where the School Advisory Council process is being investigated by the District’s legal staff.
The net cost of operating the three schools as Renaissance Schools in 2013-14 will be $3.9 million.
The District’s total budget for charters in 2013-14 will be $748 million, an increase of $107 million over this year. Much of that increase is accounted for by previously approved expansions; also, the tab for students attending cyber charters is expected to grow by $11 million, despite a new District effort to recapture cyber students by launching its own cyber school.
Explaining the lack of funds for charter expansions, Deputy Superintendent Paul Kihn told the SRC, “We don’t expect to be in this situation forever.”
Sixteen charters are up for renewal in 2013. At least 13 have been recommended by staff for a five-year renewal. On May 15, the SRC voted to commence non-renewal proceedings against Imani Education Circle in Germantown over academic and financial concerns.
An Imani board member, the Rev. LeRoi Simmons, questioned why the District would “dismantle another school in central Germantown.”
The charter renewal process has been slowed as the District tries to establish an enforceable enrollment cap at each school. To that end, this year is the first time that charters have been asked to sign a renewal agreement before the SRC votes on renewal.