Four charter organizations apply to convert three elementary schools
By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Dec 1, 2015 11:09 PM
Four charter management organizations have applied to take over operations at three District elementary schools and run them as neighborhood-based charters, the School District of Philadelphia announced Tuesday.
Superintendent William Hite proposed Renaissance charter conversion for Cooke, Huey and Wister Elementary Schools on Oct 1.
The District received one letter of interest, from the Great Oaks Foundation, in response to a request for qualifications to manage Cooke, which is in Logan.
Great Oaks – which runs four schools in Newark, New Jersey; New York City; Bridgeport, Connecticut; and Wilmington, Delaware – makes "high-dosage tutoring" a centerpiece of its model.
In addition to having a full-time staff, Great Oaks says it would hire AmeriCorps volunteers to act as full-time tutors, providing them housing and a small stipend.
"We're trying to offer something that will really benefit students," said Rashaun Reid, chief academic officer for Great Oaks.
Reid, a graduate of Temple University, owns a home in Philadelphia. Until last year, he was principal of Mastery Cleveland; before that, he was assistant principal of Mastery Mann. Both are existing city Renaissance schools.
Great Oaks president Michael Duffy, the former head of the charter office in New York City's Department of Education, also served as the managing director of Victory Education Partners – a for-profit operator that ran six schools in Philadelphia starting in 2002.
In the 2000s, the District handed over 45 of its low-performing schools to outside, for-profit management companies.
Although those schools received more per-pupil funding, they failed to exceed the gains made in District-run schools. By 2011, the School Reform Commission had ended all of its contracts with outside managers, including Victory.
An independent charter overseen by Victory opened in 2007 in West Philadelphia, as Southwest Leadership Academy Charter.
The only letter of intent the District received for the proposed conversion of Wister Elementary in Germantown came from Mastery Charter Schools, which has headquarters in the same neighborhood.