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Two 'receiving' schools to get $3M from Philadelphia School Partnership

By Dale Mezzacappa on Jul 31, 2013 02:56 PM

The Philadelphia School Partnership is giving $3 million to two District-run North Philadelphia schools that will be receiving additional students in September as a result of nearby school closings.

William D. Kelley and James G. Blaine, both K-8 elementary schools, will each receive $1.5 million "to support the development of a school turnaround model" that will focus on accelerating academic improvement.

"The Great Schools Fund is committed to supporting turnarounds of all types of schools," PSP executive director Mark Gleason said in a statement. He added that the schools' principals, Amelia Brown at Kelley and Gianeen Powell at Blaine, are "laser-focused on improving instruction."

The money will go, according to the statement, to schools with principals who have shown that they are "committed to the comprehensive transformation strategies that turning around high-poverty urban schools requires." Under Brown's leadership at Kelley, the statement said, truancy has eased and parent engagement increased. At Blaine during Powell's tenure, attendence as improved and serious incidents have gone down.

Kelley, in Brewertown, will absorb about 180 students from John F. Reynolds. Blaine, in Strawberry Mansion, will receive about 160 students from L.P. Hill.

Superintendent William Hite said in an interview that the District had "quite a bit of input" into the PSP's choice of schools, although the final decision is made by the partnership's board of directors, based on recommendations from its investment committee.

"We talked about receiving schools and schools that have demonstrated progress over the past several years," Hite said. "We did recommend a group of schools that met that criteria and also other schools that were receiving schools."

Gleason said that the two schools were chosen from 10 applications from District schools and that the awards were based on "reviewing applications, analyzing school data, visiting schools, and meeting with leaders." He did not say directly that other applications were rejected, but said there will be no further grants to District schools before the beginning of school in September. Each school presented its own turnaround plan, he said.

Gleason explained that the investment committee that makes the funding recommendations is a nine-member group. It includes five board members; two of the other members are teachers and one is a donor to PSP. The committee members are not now listed on the PSP website but will be shortly, when the organization completes a revision of its complete "donor prospectus" and posts it, Gleason said.

Hite said that he hopes that these latest grants will prove successful and be a catalyst for further grants from PSP, which so far has invested mostly in charter schools. However, he added that turnaround will be difficult in schools with minimal staff and resources.

Still, he is confident that progress can be made even under those conditions.

"We want to use this as a research project to show that these investments can impact District schools and that District schools with the right leadership can turn around and accelerate progress," said Hite. "When that happens I plan to come back to PSP and make requests for other schools."

Since 2011, PSP has awarded $29.5 million in 24 grants. Seven of those, totalling $9.4 million, have gone to District-run schools.

The principals will choose consultants to work with to help implement their turnaround plans, Gleason said.

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Comments (20)

Submitted by anon (not verified) on July 31, 2013 6:41 pm
grovel sufficiently and you too could be the beneficiary of gleason's largesse.
Submitted by Another Philadelphian (not verified) on July 31, 2013 7:39 pm
Another example of Phila. School Dictatorship - with Hite/Khin/SRC - promoting inequity in funding. Two out of the many "receiving" schools will get additional funding. (Looks like consultants will take a chunk... how will that help???) Our children, Hite/Khin/PSD are not guinea pigs! You are going to open the vast majority of District schools without basics and a few - SLA, Hill-Freeman, Workshop, now Kelley and Blaine - will have additional funding. (Of course, the mother load goes to Charter Companies - Mastery, Young Scholars, Wissihickon, etc.)
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 31, 2013 8:40 pm
Always complaining. So other peoples Moneys is no good unless you guys are sticking it to the beleaguered Philly taxpayer again. Reminds everyone of the union and Ed establishments real goal- not education but maximizing its own power and unaccountability.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 31, 2013 9:52 pm
Submitted by Keith Newman (not verified) on August 2, 2013 5:47 am
For some ignorance is bliss. You however, are simply ignorant. Care to prove me wrong? Please post your name and inform us of your teaching experience.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 2, 2013 6:59 am
Ignorance may be bliss, but certainly you are a complete hypocrite. You claim to be a champion of democracy yet apparently think only those with teaching experience can have an opinion. Parents, Philly or PA taxpayers, charities, really anyone who is not collecting a check from the status quo, that is everyone who might question your collective failure over five decades MUST BE SHOUTED DOWN... You do, probably unwittingly, prove my original point- you (as a good representative of your collective) care not one bit about democracy, or achieving better educational outcomes. Your main concern is maintaining your own control and unaccountability. And why, as a parent and a Philly taxpayer, why would I ever want to give my name to people who exhibit thuggish tendencies to anyone who criticizes them?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 2, 2013 8:19 am
Are you looking in the mirror?
Submitted by Keith Newman (not verified) on August 2, 2013 9:01 am
Looking in the mirror? We educate our children in a system designed by Rod Paige who cheated to advance his career. The result is countless administrators who cheat to enhance their egos and generate some bucks while they move up the ladder. The School District of Philadelphia as well as our entire nation is now filled with them. You insult the integrity and characters of teachers while trusting the future to those who lack moral integrity. As a teacher, I always look to the future. We can't change the past but we should learn from it. In Philadelphia it appears no one has learned much of anything.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 2, 2013 11:58 am
Don't look back is Obama's mantra about the Bush administration. Look where that has got us! I have no argument with your statement about Rod Paige, but those who don't want to look back have something to hide. We must learn from history or it will be repeated and injustice will not be corrected.
Submitted by Keith Newman (not verified) on August 2, 2013 11:10 am
So we agree. The system that led to these Charter Schools is corrupt. It was more about eradicating unions than helping students, yet you blame teachers for the debacle that is the School District of Philadelphia.
Submitted by Keith Newman (not verified) on August 2, 2013 9:17 am
You are welcome to have an opinion. It would be relevant if it were an informed opinion.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 31, 2013 11:34 pm
I love it... These guys have put NINE MILLION DOARS in school district schools but the blowhards on this site can only complain. Per usual. What have you done exactly? How much more money from the state or otherwise has your grousing helped generate?? I'm a long time reader of this site and just tired of all the bellyaching. I think the Phila schools partnership should come an extra dollars in grants for every comment that posted complaining. I mean it's just unbelievable. With all the legitimate gripes out there - chief among them that black and brown kids were under served long before the partnership or charters or Corbett -- you're going to criticize the guys who've given $9 million to district schools. That's helpful.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 1, 2013 11:18 am
I'm not one of the people who complain about this stuff too much but I do see the problem with it. The poorest students are year after year put into schools in various states of disarray as they year-after-year experiment with different turn-around models. PSP exacerbates that by encouraging schools to be closed and then giving funding to others. Is $3 million good, of course, but many of us are wary that it comes at the expense of stability in schools and funding and just provides an impetus for more turmoil. In the end it comes down to the fact that it's difficult to bring poor children with generally poorly educated families up to our current standards. None of these turn-around models have solved this problem--the successful schools are still the ones that have more middle class children or more resources to support poor students. We need stable schools with good resources and good management that is willing to get rid of teachers who don't do their job. Wholesale management change and charterization don't do that and they haven't, in aggregate, helped poor students.
Submitted by Philly teacher (not verified) on July 31, 2013 11:59 pm
I get that many hate psp, but what is bad about this news? Good for the for supporting schools. They're not anti union, just anti schools that are legally required to fit a very limited model of employment.
Submitted by Philly teacher (not verified) on July 31, 2013 11:10 pm
*them. Sorry, typing on a phone. But really, their goal is to increase high achieving seats. That is a very focused goal and does not include a large number of schools. Maybe I'm just uninformed, but I don't understand how this is a bad thing.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on August 1, 2013 9:08 am
Thank you Philly teacher. It is a good thing. North Philly is a good place to add extra money for public schools. Lest we forget, here's theTitle I money Federal GRANT to ALL District schools from 2003-4 to 2011-12 (in dollars): 216,913,599.41 (2011-12) 152,984,041.15 (2010-11) 206,996,487.32 (2009-10) 155,708,440.31 (2008-09) 150,434,694.80 (2007-08) 153,577,058.57 (2006-07) 149,970,405.53 (2005-06) 147,625,724.26 (2004-05) 137,553,205.57 (2003-04) The total is $1,471,763,656.92 over 9 years; and this isn't all, there's more, which I didn't pull up. Dwarfs anything the PSP can be blamed for giving. The public is entitled to see all the SIPs, School Improvement Plans, upon which these grant dollars were spent. Anyone seen a SIP lately? It would be good to see the "turnaround plan" of both Kelley and Blaine schools.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 1, 2013 6:01 am
It's potentially a good thing, but consider this. A few philly schools (mostly renaissance) are given large grants that allow them to provide extra services, programs and staffing. That's good. But what about schools that are forced to function on diminished budgets and their ability to raise student achievement? The fact that all schools are and will be measured on the same level, but with huge funding disparities is problematic, especially when high stakes decisions are being made about closing schools (district and charter). Private funding can dictate which schools remain open and which have a greater chance for being closed.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on August 1, 2013 10:26 am
It looks like North Philly is being targeted for preferential treatment. Racist?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 1, 2013 12:31 pm
Interesting, isn't it, that some believe that it will take $1.5 million over 2 years just to see of the absorption of new students can succeed -- yet 38 other schools are getting essentially nothing. The real problem is that the state continues to starve the poorest schools, in part by encouraging the creation of new schools (charters) that both suck money away from the students "left behind" and get grants from sources that might otherwise support public schools or even other services desperately needed by the poor. We should be embarrassed, if not enraged.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 2, 2013 8:50 am
It's promising that at least some money is being directed towards developing elementary schools. Over the last decade or so it seems that ALL resources were funneled to developing high schools while elementaries have been hobbled by staffing/program cuts year after year. There are high performing schools that have been struggling to maintain and provide high quality programs despite the losses over the last 10 years of reading coach, math coach, assistant principal, school climate manager, parent ombudsmen, student advisor, NTA, shared kindergarten assistant, full time gifted support teacher, second counselor, full time nurse becoming a 1.5 day/ week, CSAP interventionist and others.. The loss of staff is destabilizing. The addition of new positions for a year or two and then their elimination is even more destabilizing. All of this loss of service and support for real children while at the same time moving "low performing seats to high performing seats". I would think that there is a positive correlation between strong, enriching elementary school programs in preparing students for high school success and subsequent graduation rates.

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