Citing competition from charter schools in Philadelphia, the private Ivy Leaf School is closing after 43 years.

The predominantly African-American school notified parents in recent days that both its elementary and middle schools would close next month.

"We are extremely saddened to announce that after 43 years of service . . . Ivy Leaf School will officially close its doors on June 13, 2008," Tommy Head, chairman of the board of directors, wrote in a letter to parents May 13.

A letter from Head dated May 9 said the board had announced in January its intention to close the middle school - serving grades 4 through 8, on Broad Street near 69th Avenue in Oak Lane - due to a sharp decline in enrollment.

"The major reason for this decline is due to charter schools," the May 9 letter said. "In Philadelphia, 12,000 students that previously attended private and parochial schools are now enrolled in charter schools. . . . There has been a significant decline in enrollment at Ivy Leaf School over the past nine years. This decline in enrollment has led to a significant loss in revenue."

The subsequent letter said the school recently surveyed parents from the elementary school - serving nursery through grade 4, on Washington Lane at Anderson Street in Mount Airy - and "we found that the current and projected enrollment was considerably smaller than the numbers projected in our 2008-09 budget."

Efforts to reach administrators at the school yesterday afternoon were unsuccessful.

Ivy Leaf was founded in 1965 by William and Liller Green. According to its Web site, it is "the oldest independent African-American school in the city of Philadelphia and one of the largest in the nation."

Several postings on the Web site www.greatschools.net indicate that Ivy Leaf parents were growing increasingly dissatisfied with the school's academic progress in recent years.

One parent posted April 10:

"When I first started my child at this school it was wonderful. The children learn to read and write at a very early age. Now, this school has lost its nurturing and concern for the children. The children are behind in Reading and Math. The teachers do not help the students if they need help, and the curriculum is 40 years old. I will not return to this school in September. This school is so in debt that they can't afford some of the basic amenities needed to run the school like workbooks." *