Teachers, others invited to overhaul city schools

Have an idea for overhauling a city public school? The Philadelphia School District is listening.

Officials on Tuesday announced the “School Redesign Intitiave,” inviting teachers, principals, universities and community organizations to propose and execute turnarounds at city public schools.

It’s a shift for a district that has relied heavily on charter conversions to reform failing schools.

Schools chosen for the program will remain part of the district, and begin their overhauls in September 2015.

The district does currently have some in-house turnaround schools, known as Promise Academies, but those overhauls were directed by the central office, and have lost resources over the years, as the district’s money woes have grown graver.

The School Redesign Initiative Schools would be different, officials said.

“We have a moral obligation to ensure that all schools are providing a high-quality educational experience for our students,” a district document trumpeting the program said. “For too long, and despite many well-intentioned efforts by hard-working individuals, we have not met our obligations. Increasing the availability of high-quality learning experiences for children is our fundamental priority.”

Successful teams will receive a small amount of grant funding to aid in their redesign efforts, as well as district support, work space, networking opportunities and connections to experts. They would have from November of this year until August of 2015 to plan.

Those eligible to apply include current school leadership teams, teacher-led teams, collaborations between school families, community organizations, or universities in partnership with educators, and other groups.

All teams must have at least one member who is a principal or holds valid Pennsylvania principal certification.

Interested teams are asked to submit letters of intent by Aug. 19, with proposals due Oct. 10, and teams selected in November.

Applications may be submitted for any district school except current Promise Academies, but funding will only be granted for the district’s lowest-performing schools.

"The district is excited to work with educators, parents and community partners in reshaping education to better meet students’ needs and interests,” Superintendent William R. Hite said in a statement.  “By leveraging the assets of our existing school teams and other talented thinkers, educators, and advocates in our communities, we can bring about powerful change in our students’ lives.”

More information can be found here.

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