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Grants to support improvements at Facilities Master Plan receiving schools and expand three high-performing programs could total $8 million or more

PHILADELPHIA—The School District of Philadelphia announced plans today to collaborate with The Philadelphia School Partnership (PSP) to support school improvements at schools set to receive an influx of students as a result of school closings.  

PSP has indicated its desire to support transformational improvements in Facilities Master Plan receiving schools during the upcoming school year with grants totaling $2 million or more.  The grants are contingent upon school leaders with strong track records making it through PSP’s grant-approval process with compelling school turnaround plans.  

The District will assist principals to develop turnaround plans that qualify for PSP grant funding in the coming months.  

The District will also expand three high-performing schools – Hill Freedman Middle School, Science Leadership Academy and the Sustainability Workshop – through a $6 million investment from the Great Schools Fund, managed by the PSP.  

“This is a valuable opportunity for us to work with principals to provide schools with the supplementary resources needed to serve incoming students and replicate our most successful schools and programs,” said Superintendent Dr. William R. Hite. 

“We are thrilled to have the Philadelphia School Partnership’s support in this process, particularly in light of the District’s financial challenges.”  

The plans are among several efforts to increase high-quality options for students and families in Philadelphia. The District seeks to leverage various partnerships in pursuit of that goal.  

Hill Freedman Middle School, Science Leadership Academy and the Sustainability Workshop have strong records of supporting and nurturing highly diverse populations of students. They will use their regular admissions criteria to select and enroll additional students.  

The grants will be awarded over three years and support the expansions as follows:

  • Hill Freedman Middle School ($2.6 million) – The District is currently working with PSP to actualize a plan to expand the middle school to include high school grades. Hill Freedman serves 240 predominantly low-income and minority students. Approximately 70 percent of students are enrolled in the rigorous International Baccalaureate (IB) program, and 30 percent are enrolled in a high school transition program for students with special needs.

  • Science Leadership Academy ($1.9 million) – A second campus of Science Leadership Academy (SLA) will be created. SLA, a partnership school with the Franklin Institute, draws a diverse student population from across the city and currently receives more than 2,000 applications annually for 125 openings. The school has a 95 percent graduation rate and more than 90 percent of students attend college. The second campus, to be located in the Beeber Middle School building, will allow SLA to enroll about 125 additional students next year and reach 500 students at full enrollment.

  • The Sustainability Workshop ($1.5 million) – The project-based, alternative senior year program will expand to add 500 students.  The program currently serves 30 students. Last year, nearly all were accepted to college. PSP made a $175,000 incubation grant in July 2012 to support the development of the Workshop School. The school will enroll approximately 60 students next year. 

The expansions will ultimately create approximately 1,600 openings in high-performing District schools. PSP selected the schools after a thorough review of academic outcomes, leadership quality and capacity for growth.  
“We created the Great Schools Fund to rapidly expand access to great schools of many different types for all families in Philadelphia,” said Mark Gleason, PSP executive director. “Each of these three expansion grants goes to a school that has demonstrated remarkable outcomes while filling a unique niche. We also are eager to support school leaders who see the challenges of the Facilities Master Plan as an opportunity to dramatically improve student outcomes.”  

The School Reform Commission is expected to vote on the grants in June.


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