District officials have shot down an effort by teachers at Creighton Elementary to stave off charter conversion and lead their own school turnaround effort.
A teacher-led proposal calling for a council of teachers and community members to assume control of the school “does not provide sufficient evidence of the…ability to implement, manage, and sustain a large-scale school turnaround at Creighton,” wrote Chief Academic Officer Penny Nixon in a memo dated May 29.
For three of this year's four Renaissance Schools, the selection process is over. The public meetings are complete, the School Reform Commission has voted, and barring any unforeseen complication, next September they'll open as neighborhood charter schools.
But at Creighton Elementary in the Lower Northeast, supporters of a unique plan for a teacher-led administration are holding out hope that their school can buck a very big trend.
While the plan for Creighton is still to be finalized, three other District schools are being converted to Renaissance charters next fall:
Cleveland Elementary in Tioga will be run by Mastery Charter Schools, Inc.
H.R. Edmunds Elementary in Frankford will be run by String Theory Schools.
Responding to passionate support from parents, community members, and teachers for an “outside-the-box” plan to keep Thomas Creighton Elementary under District control, the School Reform Commission decided Thursday evening to delay a planned vote to convert Creighton into a Renaissance charter.
“I agree with my colleagues that we should table this motion at this point,” said Commissioner Wendell Pritchett.
“We have a lot of schools to turn around, and we need to take advantage of every opportunity to engage with our teachers to do that.”
Listen to Benjamin Herold's radio report for WHYY from Thursday night's meeting.
by Oscar Wang
The SRC took a first step tonight to shut down three charter schools: Arise Academy and Hope Charter, both of which have a mission to serve severely at-risk students, and Truebright Science Academy.
As representatives from the three schools made their cases for renewal, the SRC asked tough questions. The answers provided did not persuade the commission to reverse the three non-renewal recommendations made by the District's charter school office.
Commissioner Wendell Pritchett challenged all three charters to clearly outline a plan to turn their schools around. Implementation of good ideas is key to success, he said, not just the ideas themselves.
NewsWorks and Notebook freelancer Bill Hangley provides important background to today's vote on four new charter conversions: What effect do the District's budget troubles have on turnaround models? Research suggested that the charter school model and the District-run Promise Academy model were equally successful, but Promise Academies were not an option this year.
District staff members have recommended new managers for four recently designated Renaissance charter schools.
Their proposal, to be voted on Thursday night by the School Reform Commission, would award Mastery Charter the school it wanted, introduce two new providers to the District's aggressive school turnaround initiative, and overrule a vote by Creighton Elementary's School Advisory Council (SAC) to keep the school under District control.
The District recommends that:
As the School Reform Commission prepares to vote on converting four more District schools to charters, it will weigh the hope of duplicating preliminary test score gains in its first cohort of Renaissance turnaround schools against the reality that expanding the initiative is likely to cost the District between $800 and $1,000 per student in the first year.
“That is the calculation,” said Commissioner Feather Houstoun.
“We have a pretty good sense of what the [new charter conversions] may mean in terms of budget impact. There’s a return because of the value of what happened to children that has not happened in decades.”
In February, the District selected six "turnaround teams" to compete to manage the four new Renaissance charter schools.
American Paradigm – A Philadelphia-based educational management organization (EMO) formed last year. American Paradigm has no experience doing school turnarounds. Its founders are associated with local charters First Philadelphia and Tacony Academy.
Undeterred by a bleak budget picture, District officials announced in February that four more low-performing traditional public schools will be converted to charters as part of the Renaissance Schools initiative.