Six new charter schools have been given the go-ahead by the School Reform Commission to open in September.
An SRC vote is expected in April on 10 charters up for renewal this year, including Nueva Esperanza, Philadelphia Montessori, Performing Arts, Ad Prima, New Foundations, Khepera, Marianna Bracetti, New Media Technology, and Franklin Towne Charter High School – whose founders were approved to open a new K-8 campus in September.
The tenth up for renewal is Global Leadership Academy. In 2006, when the school was known as Raising Horizons Quest, the District forced out its leadership board after an audit uncovered evidence of financial wrongdoing. Last fall the former principal and financial officer pleaded guilty to federal charges of trying to cover up the theft of more than $14,000.
Among the new schools, besides Franklin Towne, are Arise Academy, a high school for children in foster care, and a 7-12 grade school in East Falls operated by Eastern University.
In addition, there are two new K-12 schools: Sankofa Freedom Academy, a college prep school in Frankford on the Freedom School model, which prods students to become agents of social change; and Tacony Academy, with a mission to promote critical thinking and problem-solving.
KIPP, the Knowledge is Power Program, will open its second fifth-through-eighth grade middle school in West Philadelphia. The SRC has also signaled its intention to rely more heavily on charter management organizations including KIPP, to take over existing schools that are consistently low-performing. In a memo sent out to supporters, KIPP has said it hopes to have 10 schools in the city within 10 years.
Meanwhile, teachers at Wakisha Charter voted on Feb. 20 to unionize, joining the Alliance of Charter School Employees (ACSE), an affiliate of AFT Pennsylvania.
The vote among 26 faculty members in the 370-student, Afrocentric school was 63 percent in favor of joining ACSE.
Also, the State Charter Appeals Board declined to hear Germantown Settlement Charter School’s appeal of the SRC’s decision to close it. Renaissance Charter was allowed to present its case for staying open, but no decision has been made.