Two more Philly schools to become charters

Two more Philadelphia public schools have been tapped for likely conversion to charter schools.

Muñoz Marín Elementary and Steel Elementary were designated "Renaissance," or turnaround, schools on Tuesday, the Philadelphia School District announced. Muñoz-Marín was paired with ASPIRA of Pennsylvania, and Steel was paired with Mastery Charter Schools, Inc.

But it's not a done deal - yet. In a new wrinkle in the Renaissance process, parents at both schools will have final say over whether they become charters or remain district schools.

If the Muñoz Marín and Steel communities opt to pair with the charter organizations picked for them by the Philadelphia School District, it would be the fifth year in a row the school system has deliberately shrunk itself.

"The Renaissance charter schools initiative is an important element of our plan to provide all students with a high-performing school in their neighborhood," said William R. Hite Jr., schools superintendent, said in a release. "GIven our limited resources, we are diligently investing only in what works. This initiative has a compelling track record of success, and we are excited to invest in the transformation of more schools."

Altogether, 20 district schools educating 15,000 students have been turned over to charters since 2010.

Mastery and ASPIRA both currently operate Renaissance schools. They were among three applicants to run the two schools, district officials said. ASPIRA runs two Renaissance schools, Olney High and Stetson Middle Schools, in addition to two freestanding charters. Mastery operates five freestanding charters plus Renaissance schools Cleveland, Clymer, Harrity, Mann, Pastorius and Smedley Elementary Schools and Gratz High School. Both have seen significant academic gains at the schools they run.

Parents at both schools will vote on whether to pair with the charters on May 1, and the School Reform Commission could sign off on the matches at its May meeting.