May 24 — 12:00 am, 2007

SRC charter decision:13 out of 13 renewed

The School Reform Commission at its April meeting approved five-year renewals for 13 existing charter schools, including two cited for declining academic performance and consistent failure to meet federal performance targets.

Nine of the renewals were contingent upon the schools submitting additional evidence of compliance with standards before April 30, but all nine had provided their submissions by the deadline, according to a District spokesperson.

Hope Charter School, a high school in West Oak Lane, was one of the two charters cited for academic declines. The other was the Philadelphia Electrical and Technology Charter School in Center City.

Hope Principal Gail Hawkins-Bush said she was “delighted” about the conditional approval. “I know we have not yet made AYP, but hopefully we will next year,” she said. “But our kids are coming to school, and that is part of the battle.”

The charter renewals included five schools where the SRC noted that there were “substantial compliance issues” in their annual reports. At six of the 13 schools, less than 75 percent of the professional staff has state certification – a requirement of state law.

Other charters receiving renewals are Alliance, Belmont, Family, First Philadelphia, IMHOTEP, Laboratory, Multi-Cultural Academy, Preparatory, West Oak Lane, and Wissahickon Charter.

Approximately 30,000 students are enrolled in the city’s 56 charter schools. Last year, six new charters were approved, but their openings were deferred. In September, four of the schools – Southwest Leadership Academy, Truebright Science Academy, Southwest Philadelphia Academy for Boys, and Planet Abacus – are expected to begin classes for about 900 students in total. The two other approved schools are scheduled to open in 2008, according to District officials.

This year’s crop of 19 new charter applicants was being reviewed by the School Reform Commission in May.

-News briefs by Toni Callas

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