The School Reform Commission Friday approved the Renaissance charter agreements for three schools, officially turning Pastorius over to Mastery Charter Schools, Kenderton to Scholar Academies, and Alcorn to Universal Companies.
At a tense, four-hour meeting, it also accepted $1.1 million in grant money from the Philadelphia School Partnership to expand three high-performing District schools: converting the experimental Sustainability Workshop into the Workshop School; creating a second campus of Science Leadership Academy, and expanding the middle school Hill-Freedman to include high school grades.
But it did so over the persistent objections of Commissioner Joseph Dworetzky, who did a financial analysis showing that the District will be absorbing considerable extra cost for these schools after this year — a move he called financially irresponsible given the District’s shaky budget picture. Earlier in the meeting, the District had announced it only had enough funding to rehire a few hundred of the 3,800 staff laid off this summer.
While praising all three educational models, Dworetzky said that additional cost to the District to maintain these schools and their unique programs will eventually be nearly $8 million a year, averaging out to almost $5,000 per student. This is in a district where current per-student instructional cost ranges from about $6,000 to $8,000 depending on the school, according to Chief Financial Officer Matthew Stanski.
In making his objections, Dworetzky raised sensitive questions about equity within the District in this time of austerity.