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District to charters: Don't try to expand and get a building discount

By Benjamin Herold on Apr 20, 2011 05:16 PM

How badly do Philadelphia’s charter school operators want the chance to buy closed or vacated District facilities?

We’re about to find out.

According to the School District’s proposed Adaptive Reuse Policy, charter operators are to be offered a tradeoff: if they want to be eligible for a discount of up to 25 percent off the fair-market value for a coveted building, they “must agree not to seek additional charter seats” on top of what they already have.

District: We can create "personalized" high schools with 1,000 students

By Benjamin Herold on Apr 19, 2011 01:01 PM

Will the District’s new facilities master plan mean the end of Philadelphia’s small high schools?

District officials say no, describing their newly announced recommendation that high schools should have between 1,000 and 1,200 students more a guideline for consideration than a hard-and-fast rule.

There are many who will be watching closely to see if that’s true: The student organizing groups that fought hard to get small schools. Researchers who found that size does matter, at least in terms of school climate and student-teacher relationships. Taxpayers who paid the bill for the $1.7 billion capital program through which many of the schools were created.

District to decide best use for closed schools before public input

By Benjamin Herold on Apr 18, 2011 03:53 PM

If your neighborhood public school is closed, do you think it should become a condominium, a park, or a charter school?

Under current plans, the School District won't be asking you.

According to their proposed “Adaptive Reuse Policy,” the District wants to decide internally whether closed schools should be designated for educational, public/nonprofit, or private re-use. District officials will give the public the chance to get involved - by evaluating proposals  - but only after a decision about what types of buyers are eligible has already been made.

School closings to be announced in October

By Benjamin Herold on Apr 8, 2011 11:07 AM

Sweeping changes for School District facilities are on the horizon, but few of them will happen this year.

Thursday evening's presentation on a proposed three-year facilities master plan indicated that the District plans to shed up to 50 buildings, radically overhaul the grade configurations of schools across the city, change the way it delivers programs like career and technical education, and continue its uneasy collaboration with the city’s growing charter school sector.

Immediate impact of District facilities plan

By Benjamin Herold on Apr 8, 2011 02:09 AM

Mastery Charter Schools appeared to be the biggest beneficiary of the immediate recommendations made by the School District as part of the draft Facilities Master Plan unveiled on Thursday.

Renaissance schools a 'priority,' but at what price?

By Benjamin Herold on Apr 4, 2011 01:25 PM

School District officials are still hoping to shield Superintendent Arlene Ackerman’s Renaissance Schools initiative from the massive budget cuts that have already begun – even though they aren’t sure how much the effort is going to cost.

Grays Ferry community groups weigh in on Audenried plan

By Benjamin Herold on Apr 1, 2011 01:28 PM

A coalition of seven community groups serving the Grays Ferry neighborhood of South Philadelphia has finally weighed in on the School District’s plans to award Audenried High to Universal Companies for conversion to a charter.

Sort of.

At Ford Foundation, a harsh critique of urban school closures

By Benjamin Herold on Mar 31, 2011 01:03 PM

For many, the growing push to close underutilized and chronically low-performing urban schools sounds like a common sense plan.

But not Chicago's Jitu Brown.

“School closings actually harm us in our communities,” said Brown, speaking Monday at the Ford Foundation in New York City.

Moffett to return to Audenried Monday

By Benjamin Herold on Mar 18, 2011 08:42 PM

Hope Moffett is returning to Audenried High School Monday morning.

In a surprise development, both the School District of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers have announced that Moffett will be back in the classroom teaching on Monday, and that her proposed termination has been reduced to a five-day suspension. The union is still planning to fight the suspension.

Ackerman: Moffett 'crossed the line'

By Benjamin Herold on Mar 16, 2011 10:38 AM

Despite an avalanche of criticism, Philadelphia Superintendent of Schools Arlene Ackerman remains adamant that exiled Audenried High teacher Hope Moffett should be fired for “poor judgment” that jeopardized the lives of her students.

District releases Renaissance SAC monitoring reports

By Benjamin Herold on Mar 15, 2011 04:13 PM

The District has released the second quarterly monitoring reports from School Advisory Councils (SACs) at seven existing Renaissance charter schools.

Three of the providers - ASPIRA, Inc, Mastery Charter, and Universal Companies - are vying for additional schools in the second year of the Renaissance Schools initiative.

Some school-by-school highlights:

Mastery's big gamble set to pay off

By Benjamin Herold on Mar 14, 2011 06:42 PM

The School Advisory Councils (SACs) at Simon Gratz High and George Clymer Elementary schools have both recommended that Mastery Charter be selected as their “turnaround team” for next year, according to multiple sources.

Universal makes its case on Audenried

By Benjamin Herold on Mar 13, 2011 08:34 AM

Almost two months after the School District first announced its plans to convert Audenried High School into a charter, Universal Companies President and CEO Abdur-Rahim Islam finally got to share his vision Saturday for how Universal intends to overhaul the school.

District: Audenried plan doesn't need SRC approval 'because it's different'

By Benjamin Herold on Mar 11, 2011 10:59 AM

Although the District intends to convert eight public schools to charters managed by outside “turnaround teams,” it will ask the School Reform Commission to publicly approve the suitability of the provider matches for only six of the schools.

District officials confirmed Wednesday that plans to hand over two so-called "Promise Neighborhood Partnership schools," Audenried High and Edwin Vare Middle School, to Universal Companies will not be voted on at the March 16 SRC meeting.

Mastery to take over Hardy Williams Charter

By Benjamin Herold on Mar 11, 2011 01:38 AM

Starting next school year, the Hardy Williams Academy Charter School (HWACS) in West Philadelphia will become part of the Mastery Charter School network.

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