The Philadelphia School District just announced three companies won the right to be considered to run three public schools being given to charters. They're all familiar names - Mastery Charter Schools, Universal Companies and Scholar Academies.
All currently run at least one Renaissance school - that's a low-performing district school given by the district to a charter company.
Mastery runs Harrity, Mann, Smedley, Clymer and Gratz High; Universal runs Bluford, Daroff, E. Vare and Audenried; and Scholar Academies runs Frederick Douglass. All three operators also have freestanding charter schools in the city, as well.
In a release, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said the organizations "meet the district's commitment to select only those with a track record of successfully addressing the urgent needs of our chronically low-performing schools. I look forward to receiving feedback from our School Advisory Councils as we work together to find the best match."
The advisory councils, made up of parents and community members from each of the schools chosen for turnaround, will interview the finalists and make recommendations to the district on which they want to run their school beginning in September. The district, in its fourth year of Renaissance schools, historically endorses the advisory council choice but in a few cases has overruled them.
The School Reform Commission makes the final decision on matching school to turnaround team; that vote is expected in late April or early May.
Eight companies had applied to run the turnaround schools. Of the five unsuccessful bidders, three currently run Renaissance schools - American Paradigm, Mosaica, and String Theory. But two others would have been newcomers. CSMI Academies runs Chester Community Charter School and Creative Minds Partnerships does not currently operate any schools. But its founders, a local songwriter and singer, count Universal co-founder Kenny Gamble among their mentors. On their website, they say their aim is to operate a Renaissance school that focuses on science and technology; the arts; wellness; and parent engagement.