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Ground rules set for 2nd round of charter hearings in January

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

The School District has established the ground rules for a second round of hearings on charter school applications next month.

According to an email from the District’s Charter Schools Office, each of the 40 applications will get a two-hour hearing. Last week, the applicants went through a first round of hearings in front of a District hearing officer, in which they had 15 minutes apiece to make their case.

The tentative schedule calls for hearings to be held on 11 different days in January, starting Jan. 5, with two to five applicants considered each day. The final schedule could change depending on the applicants’ availability; they have until tomorrow to request changes.

Organizations seeking to open more than one new school, including Mastery, KIPP, String Theory, and American Paradigm, will have all their applications considered at the same time. The schedule appears to allow more than two hours for applicants with multiple proposals.

In the letter sent to applicants, the charter office said that for the first half-hour, a representative of the District or the charter office will present an evaluation of the application. The District sought volunteer evaluators to supplement District personnel in looking over each of the proposals.

That will be followed by an hour for questions, and 15 minutes for a final statement.

"The questions will come from the Charter Schools Office and from the review of the applications," said District spokesman Fernando Gallard.

Gallard said that these sessions will be presided over by a hearing officer designated by the School Reform Commission.

The legislature required the SRC to consider applications for new charters when it authorized a $2-a-pack city cigarette tax to raise money for schools. Under the deadlines set by the law, the SRC will have to vote on the applications within 75 days of the first round of hearings, which means by the end of February.

The hearings, all of which will be held in District headquarters at 440 North Broad St., will be open to the public, but will not be livestreamed. Members of the public can submit written testimony regarding one or more applications, but will not be able to speak at these hearings.

The Notebook will post the schedule when it is finalized.

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