Drexel to open new middle school in Powelton?
Grant to fund public school growth in Powelton Village
The Philadelphia School Partnership (PSP) made its first grant to a traditional public school Monday, giving a team of partners $215,000 to map out a dramatic transformation of the neighborhood schools in West Philadelphia's Powelton Village neighborhood.
The hope is to expand tiny Powel Elementary while also creating a new, district-run, neighborhood middle school nearby.
"As a school community, we're ecstatic," said the school's principal, Kimberly Ellerbee.* "The Powel community has long imagined an expansion of our current program to include fifth grade, and the opportunity for our students to attend a high-quality middle school in our neighborhood."
The grant will fund development of a plan to be presented to the School Reform Commission for consideration
sometime next year. Along with Powel, Drexel University and Science Leadership Academy (SLA) are partners in the effort.
"The cornerstone of Drexel's community revitalization effort is education and a commitment to improving public school options for families in the neighborhood," said Lucy Kerman, Drexel's vice president for university and community partnerships.
"We're really excited to have gotten this vote of confidence."
Drexel and SLA, a popular Center City magnet school affiliated with the Franklin Institute, will help develop a project-based educational program for the proposed middle school.
All told, the hope is to add 500 "high-performing seats" in Powelton Village...
The two-year old nonprofit organization has already raised more than $50 million to support the expansion of successful Philadelphia schools. PSP has long stressed that it supports all schools, regardless of management model, but the group had faced criticism for directing all of its early grants to charters and private schools.
"Hopefully district principals and school leaders will take from this grant that we are serious about investing in their schools," said Gleason."
This is interesting also:
Wissahickon Charter, a K-8 elementary school in Northwest Philadelphia, will also receive a $75,000 planning grant from PSP. The SRC in May authorized Wissahickon to add 500 seats in a second school, slated to open in 2014."
Last edited by billy ross; 09-24-2012 at 10:27 PM.
Great news. This is great for the neighborhood. The only question is whether the District will support it.
And whether Drexel will monetarily. I've long heard they've supportive of Powel expanding but have no money to offer. Well wishes only go so far. (To be fair, Penn only donated the land for Penn Alexander, it did not fund the building as so many people think. The district/taxpayers paid $17 million to build Penn Alexander).
Originally Posted by Poweltonian
As for the district, since it's closing schools, a significant investment in a new or renovated building may only be palatable if Powel's catchment expands further into closed school catchments - McMichael to the north might be vulnerable. As it is, Powel's new expanded catchment to 40th Street mirrors the Drexel's employee home buying program catchment pretty closely and I know the district is expecting more of Powel's students will come from the catchment.
Drexel has pretty much told us (the community) that they won’t be paying for much. They have stated that they will help bring resources to the table, but not necessarily their own. So yes, there is still a lot to be worked out in a time when the district is very much financially strapped.
The PSP needs to find public schools that are ready to grow if it's going to help increase the number of high quality seats while low quality seats are removed:
Originally Posted by Poweltonian
Small Powel Elementary in West Philly gets grant to look at adding grade
"Powel, which has 260 students, most of whom are poor, was among the elite crop of 33 schools district-wide that met their goals on the 2012 state reading and math exams."
Among those select 33 schools that tested well this year how many would benefit from PSP? I'm guessing that Greenfield and Meredith are among that list, and I don't think there's much value added for the PSP to come in and shake things up at schools like that. Powel is different:
"Even so, lacking strong middle-grades options was becoming a problem. Powel feeds to the nearby Middle Years Academy, a school some parents do not feel comfortable sending their children to.
"It was becoming a dissuasion in some cases for parents to enroll their children at Powel. They felt like maybe they would be stuck," Ellerbee said. Many Powel parents hope to get their children into Masterman, Conwell, or GAMP, magnets that start at fifth grade, but space at each is limited."
Powel is actively harmed by not being part of a greater whole that offers a clear path to quality education. This plan solves that problem.
"Gleason said that if the organization liked Powel's growth plan and the SRC signs off on it, PSP would consider a grant to get the new middle school off the ground.
He said he also hoped to make more grants to other district schools."
PSP lives and dies by donations. It can't be seen as partisan or point of view. It needs to remain focused on quality options for as many students as is humanly possible, hopefully all students eventually. The public schools need to be a part of that discussion. Hovering in the background is the Gates Foundation. The plan is to tap into them for spigots of cash. I think that this plan is set up to be able to fundraise around expanding Powel, and that the Gates Foundation and others will be looking very closely at it. It's an amazing model. Close a failing school. Use the vacant building to allow a nearby quality school that's too small to expand and offer more and thereby become even higher quality. Voila - you've improved a school which is already doing well, gotten rid of a headache in the form of a failed school, and created a quality school at that location, all by remaining focused on achievement and offering excellence. This is exactly what the Gates Foundation is trying to figure out how to do on a gigantic scale. You don't think they'd be willing to seed a school like this to see how it pans out?
Last edited by billy ross; 09-25-2012 at 06:23 PM.
For someone so interested in this subject, you have very little understanding of the Gates Foundation and its priorities if you think it's going to fund Powel's expansion and addition of a middle school or even contribute to PSP itself.
If you would like your posts to be readable, you may want to start using the [QUOTE [/QUOTE function.
I normally don't quote so liberally, and I agree that it can be hard to follow, as my quotation marks aren't so visible.
Originally Posted by annie
Time will tell whether this goes through and who pays for it. It looks as if Drexel will contribute at most a token amount. Still, I think it will go through - it would be illogical not to support a struggling school that is succeeding against the odds; the district schools need more success stories. As Lorene Carey said, "These are the kinds of schools we need to be supporting, not killing" (or something to that effect). Closing dozens of failing schools should free up cash to support the successful ones. It's like amputating a gangrenous part of the body so that the rest of the body can be healthy. Or they can fundraise. However it plays out, I'll be watching.
According to what you linked, the Gates Foundation should be announcing the winners of those grants within the next six weeks or so. I think Philly will do well out of that selection process. Again, time will tell. I think it was based upon how coordinated the process is between publics and charters, and we seem to be giving them what they're looking for.
Last edited by billy ross; 09-25-2012 at 08:34 PM.
Yeah, after Philly whittled the application down to $2.5 million from $7 million because Gates wasn't interested in funding more than half of it. But Gates will be Powel's rich uncle, sure.
Originally Posted by billy ross
I was sad to learn that MYA, the middle school that is now "not an option" by Powel parents, was originally started with the help of Powel parents for the same reasons a new middle school is being sought now. Apparently MYA used to be located where PIC is now. With the creation of PAS on the property, MYA was moved out to a less popular location and then moved again several times before settling in its current location.
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