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Application cycle for new charter schools now open, District says

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

The School District of Philadelphia announced today that the 2015-16 application cycle for new charter schools is now open.

The application cycle applies to new, "non-Renaissance" charters. Those interested in launching a charter school can fill out an application online through the District’s Charter Schools Office. Deadline to submit an application is at 5 p.m. on Nov. 15.

During the 2014-15 school year, the District considered applications from new charters for the first time since 2007. In February, the School Reform Commission voted to approve five new charters out of 39 applications, all from existing nonprofits that already operated charter schools in Philadelphia: Independence, KIPP, Mastery, Freire, and MaST.

The SRC voted to approve Independence West Charter School, to open in 2016; MaST, Roosevelt campus; Mastery Charter’s Gillespie campus, to open in 2016; TECH-Freire, a 9-12 school in North Philadelphia, to open in 2016; and KIPP DuBois, an already existing 9-12 school that will officially open as a school this fall. The SRC approved an additional application in May, a three-year KIPP charter, after the operator’s original proposal was denied and then resubmitted.

Superintendent William Hite recently reiterated his view that the charter sector in Philadelphia had reached a "saturation point." In his first two years in Philadelphia, the only new charter proposals considered were for turnarounds of District schools – the so-called Renaissance charters.

But the Pennsylvania law approved one year ago, which authorized a $2-a-pack cigarette tax to help close the District’s budget gap, attached a condition: that the SRC reopen the charter application process annually.

The law also specified that the state Charter Appeals Board will be able to review denials. Under the law that created the SRC, its word had been final on charter rejections, unlike in the rest of the state.

For more information about the 2015-16 charter application cycle, contact the Charter Schools Office at 215-400-5270 or email charterapplications@philasd.org.

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