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SRC to vote today on new charter applications

  • district building
    Harvey Finkle

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The School Reform Commission is scheduled to vote this afternoon on three new charter school applications.

Two applicants – Friendship Whittier Charter School and Deep Roots Charter School – would be new to the city. The third is KIPP Philadelphia, which already operates four schools serving 1,780 students and wants to open a new K-8 school in Parkside. (Two other charter applicants dropped out.)

Friendship Whittier Charter would be a K-5 "college prep" school affiliated with an organization that runs eight charters in Washington, D.C. It would be located in Allegheny West.

Deep Roots would be in the Lower Northeast. Logan Blyler, the proposed Deep Roots head of school, is a Teach for America alumnus who has worked in schools in Philadelphia and Camden and is a partner and fellow at a nonprofit that trains charter school leaders.

The SRC's Charter Schools Office submitted evaluations that raised concerns about all three applications. The evaluation teams included District staffers and officials and experts from other cities. Typically, when the SRC approves new charters, it attaches conditions. 

Still unclear is whether Estelle Richman, Gov. Wolf's nominee for the fifth seat on the SRC, will be confirmed by the state Senate in time to join in the voting. Richman sailed through a committee hearing Tuesday on her nomination, but said Wednesday morning that she was "sitting by the phone" waiting to hear whether the Senate vote would occur today. Before being unanimously recommended by the committee, she told the senators that she favors parental choice and "quality" schools of all kinds, including charters.

If Richman is confirmed in time, she will be one of three new members who have joined the SRC since the last vote involving charters. Joyce Wilkerson and Christopher McGinley were appointed by Mayor Kenney.

The applications are here, and the Charter Schools Office evaluations are here.

The SRC meeting will start at 4 p.m. Seventeen people have registered to speak, about evenly divided between representatives of the applicants and members of the community, most of whom have signaled their opposition to any new charter schools.

DawnLynne Kacer, head of the Charter Schools Office, will make a presentation outlining the evaluations but will not offer recommendations.

 

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