With $100,000 grant, Philly aims to work more closely with charter schools

The Philadelphia School District will try to work more effectively with its charter schools, an effort fueled by a grant from the Gates Foundation. The goal is better-performing schools.

The new collaboration, called the Philadelphia Great Schools Compact, will get $100,000. Philadelphia will be eligible to compete for a portion of $40 million the foundation will award next year.

On Tuesday, Mayor Michael Nutter announced the agreement at the Stetson Middle School in the Northeast.

“When adults get themselves together and focus on what’s really important, which is you, that’s when we’ll start to make progress,” Nutter told an auditorium full of students. “That’s when we’ll be able to replicate Stetson’s story all across the city of Philadelphia.”

The compact, approved by the city’s School Reform Commission in November, tries to put charter schools and the district’s traditional schools on the same page. Charters are publicly funded, but operate independently. Many charter leaders had frosty relations with just-departed superintendent Arlene Ackerman.

School leaders intend to meet with business leaders and nonprofits to talk about what’s working in city schools. And the school district will work to turn more low-performing schools over to new management or into charters.

The city’s School Reform Commission has almost completely turned over in the past year. But Nutter said the new members are fully on board with the “Great Schools” agreement.

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