This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
The School District has posted the applications from three charter organizations seeking to turn around Wister, Huey, and Cooke Elementaries, under its Renaissance initiative. Great Oaks is applying to run Cooke. Mastery was given the go-ahead to apply for Wister. Global Leadership Academy seeks to turn around Huey. The School Reform Commission invited the three to submit applications at its Jan. 21 meeting. But the Wister vote caused an outcry. Superintendent William Hite had withdrawn his recommendation to convert the school to a charter, citing some academic improvement. At a subsequent SRC meeting, Commissioner Sylvia Simms offered a walk-on resolution that got the votes of colleagues Feather Houstoun and Bill Green, saying that she had heard from parents who wanted a change. At the time, SRC members reiterated that the final decision on matching the schools would be made at a later date. The SRC has not yet said when it will vote on these applications, but it will likely be sometime next month. Opponents of more charter turnarounds have mobilized in hopes of preventing them, and Councilwoman Helen Gym raised serious concerns about Great Oaks’ plans for Cooke.