This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
The School District of Philadelphia has received applications for nine new charter schools that would, if approved, open up more than 7,000 new charter seats.
The nine applications represent a spike from last year, when just four schools asked for a charter — and only one was approved. The School Reform Commission has final say over application approval, but this is likely to be the commission’s last year before it’s replaced by a local school board.
This year’s applications feature some familiar names, including Mastery, the city’s largest charter network.
Mastery is applying to open Mastery Charter Elementary School in the North Philadelphia neighborhood of Yorktown. If approved, the school would eventually serve 756 students in grades K-8.
A significant chunk of Mastery’s expansion has been through the School District’s Renaissance initiative, in which traditional public schools are turned over to charter operators. Of Mastery’s 14 schools, 13 already existed as District or charter schools before Mastery began running them.
The District, however, has not designated a new Renaissance charter school since the 2015-16 school year and will not convert any District schools into charters this year. For well over a year now, the District has said it’s reviewing the program and will not designate any new schools until that review is complete.