Although the Philadelphia School Reform Commission has delayed opening several charter schools for financial reasons, eight more proposed city charters have received charter planning grants.
The charter hopefuls were given grants ranging from $38,200 to $50,000 to help flesh out their proposals over the next three years, the state Department of Education announced yesterday.
The federal goverment provided the funds, but the state evaluated the applications and selected the winners.
The grant winners include a proposed seventh- through 12th-grade school that would prepare students for construction jobs and an elementary school focused on children whose families are immigrants from the former Soviet Union.
"Right now most of our parents are Russian, and most of the people who are interested in this charter come from immigrant backgrounds," said Ella Yaffa-Kremen, who hopes to direct the proposed school. "But it would not be closed off to everyone else."
She said the proposed Red Lion Charter School would stress foreign languages, performing arts and technology.
The founding group, Yaffa-Kremen said, has been meeting daily and hopes to submit its charter application to the district in October.
The roster of planned charters receiving grants also includes a high school for at-risk students. The group behind the proposed Learner Alternatives Charter School was rebuffed when it applied to operate a similar charter in Montgomery County.
The Cheltenham Township School District rejected the application for the Whole Life School for Learner Alternatives in January. Adjoining Springfield Township School District had granted the group a charter in 2006-07, but it had trouble finding a suitable building in Springfield.
Founder Gary Lee Sobolow said his group was still pursuing its proposal in Cheltenham.
"We are planning on going a second round with them," he said yesterday.
The charter school proposed for Philadelphia, Sobolow said, also would provide individualized instruction for students with specific learning difficulties, such as hyper-activity and attention-deficit disorder.
Others receiving planning grants include the Democracy in Action Charter School. The founding group of this proposed high school includes Simon Andrew Hauger, who oversees the Automotive Academy at West Philadelphia High School.
The founders envision a charter that would be "student-driven and project-based," said Hauger, whose automotive students have received international acclaim for winning Tour de Sol competitions with biodiesel cars.
He said the founders will use the grant money to develop the curriculum and refine their school model.
"I am excited to see where it leads," said Hauger, who will remain at the automotive academy in the fall.
The eight proposed Philadelphia charter schools were among 13 statewide that received a total of $600,228 in planning grants. The other grants were for proposed charters in the Bethlehem, Emmaus, Hazelton and Pittsburgh school districts.
Philadelphia will have 63 charter schools in the fall.
In May, the School Reform Commission gave conditional approval to seven more to open in 2009 - provided the school district has the money to pay for them.
More than 30,000 Philadelphia students are enrolled in charter schools.
Charters are publicly funded schools that are exempt from some state laws that apply to traditional public schools. During the 2008-09 academic year, the school district will pay city charters $8,088 for each student in regular classes and $17,658 for each in special education.