Philadelphia SRC approves increased enrollment at Franklin Towne Charter High School

Posted: June 10, 2012

The Philadelphia School Reform Commission voted unanimously Friday to allow Franklin Towne Charter High School to add 250 students but not before questioning administrators about the charter school's practice of charging new students a $45 fee.

Administrators from the Bridesburg school said the fee — charged after new students have been admitted — pays for supplies and a special identification card.

The school is at the Frankford Arsenal Business Center, and the management company charges the school $25 to create and program each magnetic badge that allows students to enter the property.

SRC Chairman Pedro Ramos said that as a veteran public school parent he was used to receiving a list of supplies students are supposed to bring to school.

"I normally don't have to buy a school ID for my kid," Ramos said, adding that he was troubled by charging parents a fee "for an ID to get into a public school."

Patrick Field, a Franklin Towne administrator, said the school was working with the business center's management company to try to eliminate the fee. He said Franklin Towne does not exclude students whose families cannot afford the fee.

Field also said the school had been working with the district's charter school office to resolve the issue.

As The Inquirer reported last month, district officials have warned Franklin Towne that charging students an administrative fee could present a barrier to admission and violate the state charter law.

Maritime Academy Charter School is also in the Frankford Arsenal. Anne G. Waiters, Maritime's chief executive, has said her school pays for students' ID badges but charges them a nominal amount if the badges are lost.

The resolution the SRC approved Friday will let Franklin Towne enroll 1,175 students. Under the agreement, beginning in 2013-14 the school will try to enroll 65 percent of incoming ninth graders from a list of overcrowded district schools. Preference will be given to the eighth graders graduating from Franklin Towne's nearby elementary school for the remaining 35 percent of the seats.

Thomas Darden, a School District official who oversees charter schools, said adding students to Franklin Towne would cost an estimated $1.7 million each year. But he said drawing two-thirds of the students from overcrowded schools could save the district from having to spend money to lease facilities or place modular classrooms in school parking lots.

Commission member Joseph A. Dworetzky asked Darden to present more detailed cost-benefit information for future charter enrollment requests.

The SRC will hold special charter school sessions through the end of the month to consider renewals and expansions.

Philadelphia's 80 charter schools enroll nearly 46,000 students.

Contact Martha Woodall at 215-854-2789 or

comments powered by Disqus