Vera Primus breathed a sigh of relief late Wednesday morning before leaving a first-floor meeting room inside Philadelphia School District headquarters.
For nearly two hours, she and other members of a grassroots coalition had listened to comments and taken questions on the nearly 100-page application they had submitted for a new independent charter school in Germantown.
Dan Hardyon Jan 27, 2015 10:21 AM
As 2014 began, it looked as if it might be the year in which the state legislature would finally revise the nearly two-decade-old charter law.
There was anticipation that Republican legislators would try to boost then-Gov. Tom Corbett’s poll numbers – sagging mostly due to his education policy – by tackling this.
Hope for change was particularly fervent in Philadelphia, where charters educate about a third of public school children and consume about 30 percent of the District’s budget. District officials sought revisions that would ease the financial pressure from charter expansion.
The School Reform Commission tonight voted unanimously to revoke the charter of the Walter D. Palmer Leadership and Learning Charter School, which is already closed.
In financial disarray after losing a court battle with the District over enrolling students above its alloted amount, the K-8 school abruptly shut down last month during winter break. Palmer's high school had closed in October.
The two closings left 1,250 students stranded without a school to attend.
Now it's in the hands of the School Reform Commission.
On Wednesday, the team behind the proposed Philadelphia Career & Technical Academy bunched around a table inside a near-empty auditorium for the second and final public hearing on the group's charter school application. It's one of 40 such applications submitted to the Philadelphia School District.
The head of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools said Friday that there is no way of knowing whether the claim is accurate that 40,000 students in Philadelphia now are on charter school waiting lists.
Is the number larger? is it smaller? Is it close? What is the relationship between the number of names on lists and the actual number of students waiting to get into charters?
Can't say, according to Bob Fayfich, executive director of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools.
The School Reform Commission voted 4-1 Thursday night to close Imani Education Circle Charter School in Germantown, leading the school's board and CEO to promise a swift and strong appeal to the state.
"We will go through the appeal process and will be fine," said CEO Francine Fulton after the vote. "I have no fear the state will deny our charter."
A federal judge has ordered the heavily indebted Mosaica Education Inc., a for-profit charter school management organization, to accept a turnaround receiver.
Mosaica, which contracts with more than 100 schools -- including one in Philadelphia -- to serve 25,000 students in the United States and abroad, carries a $20 million debt load with its lender, Tatonka Capital.
Following is an abridged version of a statement issued by the board of trustees and administrative leadership of the FACTS charter school.
Why we speak
As members of the Board of Trustees and the administrative leadership of the Folk Arts Cultural Treasures Charter School (FACTS), we wish to add our voice and our perspectives to this important discussion [about public education and the District's current funding crisis], speaking out of FACTS’ experience as a public charter school now in its 10th year of existence.
FACTS began in specific response to educational needs of Asian immigrant children who were not being adequately served in Philadelphia by the public schools. It was founded by community residents deeply committed to public education who had struggled for many years previously on a number of fronts to remedy the overall lack of public resources in Chinatown, and in Asian communities more broadly.
To the consternation of the charter community, the School Reform Commission has not considered new charter applications since 2007, citing its precarious financial situation, although it has continued converting low-performing District schools to charters.