SRC approves agreements with five Renaissance charter schools

PHOTOS: TOM GRALISH / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER In advance of yesterday's final School Reform Committee meeting of the summer, members of the Philadelphia Coalition for Public Schools marched to demonstrate for more school funding.
PHOTOS: TOM GRALISH / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER In advance of yesterday's final School Reform Committee meeting of the summer, members of the Philadelphia Coalition for Public Schools marched to demonstrate for more school funding.
Posted: August 23, 2013

THE SCHOOL REFORM Commission last night approved license agreements for five Renaissance charter schools, among other resolutions, during its last meeting before the school year begins.

There were spirited speeches, a fair share of boos and frustrated audience members carrying posters criticizing the district, and a well-attended protest outside district headquarters, but last night's SRC meeting was more subdued than last week's emergency session, during which the commission unanimously voted to suspend certain sections of the state public-school code.

The license agreements will result in some money being paid to the district for use of school space. Combined pay from Mastery Charter Pastorius Elementary, Universal Alcorn Charter and Young Scholars Renaissance Kenderton Charter will generate $277,540 annually through June 2018, while Universal Audenried and Universal Vare Promise Neighborhood Partnership Charter schools will pay $391,944 and $186,000, respectively, per year until June 2016.

A few speakers at the meeting also brought up concerns about reports of shared classrooms at Powel Elementary in West Philadelphia's Powelton section. Robin Dominick, head of the school's Home and School Association, whose daughter was by her side when she addressed the SRC members, told them she found out Wednesday the school is expected to have combined second- and third-grade classes.

Referring to her daughter, Dominick said, "Can you tell her what to do when a third-grader picks on her? . . . There's no one to go to. No aide, no guidance counselor."

The three SRC members in attendance - Wendell Pritchett, Sylvia Simms and Feather Houstoun - also approved a controversial resolution involving the acceptance of a $228,000 gift from the Science Leadership Academy Home and School Association. The funds will pay for the salaries and benefits of two SLA teachers for the upcoming school year.

"They have taken care of their own children," said Joan Taylor, who called herself a "proud and determined teacher," in speaking about the donation to SLA.

"Their action, although well-intentioned, makes it harder for other schools who cannot do the same," Taylor continued. She also said SLA has set up expectations for other prosperous schools to follow the example and could lead Harrisburg legislators to push for other public schools to self-fund.

"SLA and a few other schools has, in effect, created its own gated community," she said.


On Twitter: @ReginaMedina

Online: ph.ly/DNEducation

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