A Philadelphia high school that had been embroiled in a controversy surrounding charter school contracts is going to remain a district school. A committee of parents voted this week to forgo turning Martin Luther King High School into a charter. Instead, it will become a “Promise Academy,” part of a district effort to pour additional resources into failing schools.
The high school in Germantown recently became a focal point in a controversy surrounding charter school companies and political influence. A contract worth up to $60 million to run the King school as a charter had been headed to a Georgia-based company. But that company withdrew after one of its officials was summoned to a closed-door meeting with Robert Archie, the head of the School Reform Commission, and state Rep. Dwight Evans.
A volunteer committee at King high had favored the Georgia firm and was upset by the about-face. Schools CEO Arlene Ackerman then offered the “Promise Academy” option. On Tuesday, the committee accepted.
“It’s more resources being poured into the school that are coming directly from the school district, not from an outside company, or from a charter school company,” said Conchevia Washington, a parent on the committee. “So I think what that does is close the gap, where there’s no room for the political wrangling we’ve had to deal with thus far in our process.”
Washington says for the students and parents, it’s time to move forward. The Promise Academy designation means an additional hour in the school day and Saturday classes. Teachers will retain their district contract, but they have to apply to stay at the school.