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In catchment or not, Penn Alexander will be forced to turn new students away

Posted on 11 May 2011

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Mayor Michael Nutter talks with students at the Penn Alexander School recently. For the first time, the school will likely have to turn students away.

 

Enrollment at the vaunted Penn Alexander School at 43rd and Locust has increased every year since it began with 75 students 10 years ago. Now, School District of Philadelphia and Penn Alexander officials have announced, the school’s lower grades are full and many new students will likely not be admitted next year even if they live in the school’s catchment area.

Rumors have been swirling for months that the school, which has operated cooperatively with the University of Pennsylvania since opening in 2001, was at capacity in its lower grades. The District has confirmed that special arrangements have been made with Penn Alexander to limit the number of new students, a break from the District’s usual requirement of reserving spots in neighborhood schools for students who live within the school’s catchment boundaries.

The school’s lower grades, particularly 1-3, are at capacity and students who live in the school’s catchment area, where housing prices have tripled since the school opened, are no longer guaranteed spots.

District spokeswoman Shana Kemp wrote in an e-mail to West Philly Local:

Penn Alexander is at capacity in the lower grades. It typically is the policy that a school must take a student who lives in a catchment, however, once a school reaches capacity, the District can make the decision to assign students elsewhere in order to relieve overcrowding. This is what we have had to do at Penn Alexander. The school was founded in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania, in part, in order to provide enrollment relief to the Lea and Wilson schools, so it is important that we not create a situation of overcrowding there.

A school official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that there were “no guarantees” that students not already attending the school’s kindergarten would be admitted to the first grade. Some grades beyond first are full as well, the official said. Even siblings of students already attending the school are not guaranteed admission.

Penn provides $1,330 per student annually to keep average class sizes at about 23 students. Currently, the school’s lower grades far exceed that number, with some classes as high as 30.

Registration officially begins on August 15, but District officials recommended that parents of students not currently enrolled at the school investigate other neighborhood schools.

The District estimates that Penn Alexander is at 72 percent of capacity. That number reflects a lopsided enrollment where the classrooms in lower grades are at or above capacity and the upper grades (6-8) are under capacity. The school is designed to accommodate 815 students. Last October, the District reported that 587 students attended the school.

The school official who asked not to be named said an admission lottery is not an option. Likewise, expanding the school’s capacity by using trailers or other temporary classrooms was not planned. The line to sign up for kindergarten at Penn Alexander, which is now the only way to guarantee that a student will be admitted to first grade, began forming this year long before registration began at 8 a.m., requiring parents to spend the night outside the school in freezing temperatures to get a spot.

“I wish we could accommodate every child but we can’t,” said the school official.

Alternatives for those living in the catchment include Samuel Powel Elementary (301 N. 36th St.), which serves students in grades 1-4. But Powel is even more crowded than Penn Alexander. The district reports that, as of October 2010, 236 students attended the school, which has a capacity of 199.

Another alternative is the Henry C. Lea School (47th and Locust), which in recent months has drawn interest from parents who live just outside the Penn Alexander catchment. Lea serves students K-8 and is at about 72 percent capacity, according to the District. Parents who want to improve other schools in the neighborhood have formed the West Philadelphia Coalition for Neighborhood Schools, which has become active at Lea in particular.

The announcement from school and district officials is likely to send parents who have flocked to the neighborhood in recent years scrambling to find school alternatives for their children. The Penn Alexander official sympathized.

“When this school opened we never imagined this would happen,” the school official said.

 

97 Comments For This Post

  1. Suzanne Says:

    Well, I’m not sure why this is so shocking to the hordes who have swollen the ranks and inflated the housing market. It’s one school with finite capabilities. I’ve asked this question since its inception and only now is there any real truth being spoken. If PAS was built partly to relieve overcrowding at Lea-which is dubious at best and frankly, disingenuous- why are they both at roughly 70% capacity?

    If PAS is under-enrolled why aren’t they allowing students outside of the catchment to enroll and fill those under-enrolled classrooms? The middle school saw enrollment erosion after the selective admission schools plucked much of the talented kids from the 5th grade. Why not allow kids with strong test scores and strong grades merit-in for those spots until the teeming masses of kindergarteners are cued up and ready for 5th grade? This makes no sense to me.

  2. Former catchment resident Says:

    This was predicted the first year the school opened. SHCA also did an informal census of new babies five years ago that also predicted this.

    There’s always St Francis de Sales.

  3. Amara Says:

    The West Philly Coalition for Neighborhood Schools has recently decided to focus its efforts on Lea Elementary at 47th and Locust. The school has room for about 200 more students and accepts students from outside its catchment will continue doing so for the foreseeable future. This is an exciting opportunity to bring our awesome community with all its resources, skill sets and quirky expertise into a neighborhood school.

    We are now working on publicizing/supporting the Lea kindergarten open house on May 23rd (time TBA). We are arranging for a school tour to follow and afterwards a meeting for members and interested parents with the Lea Home and School Association president, Maurice Jones.

    Last week, we had a very positive talk and panel discussion at Lea with the author of How to Walk to School the HSA president, the after-school director, the director of Tune Up Philly (who wants to bring his program to Lea) and Greenfield’s principal. This was covered by West Philly Local: http://www.westphillylocal.com/2011/05/06/how-to-walk-to-lea-parents-teachers-community-members-discuss-school-reform/

    Interested community members (parenthood not required!) can sign up for the WPCNS listserve here:
    http://groups.google.com/group/westphillycoalitionforneighborhoodschools

    We’re also on Facebook:
    http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_128138487261714

    And Twitter:
    http://twitter.com/#!/WPCNS

  4. LW Says:

    “When this school opened we never imagined this would happen,” the school official said.”

    I’m not sure I believe this. Well maybe the school official(s) didn’t know, but Penn has a long long history of knowing and getting what it wants in terms of West Philly development. They had a lot of negative press after moving folks out of Black Bottom and decided to try some social engineering instead.

    Now Fry is president of Drexel, he is trying to do the same thing to Powelton/Mantua.

    This is also bad news for Powelton and Greenfield who will now have to start dealing with the catchment overflow.

  5. Jay Says:

    Nutter looks pretty happy. Was he there to talk about the special arrangement?
    We’ll see if this affects the election.

  6. stephanie Says:

    as the parent of a kindergarten aged child, i am nearly positive that greenfield and powel have reached their out-of-catchment limits : we received a 100% zero acceptance for our 5 transfer requests to powel & greenfield & others. we are hearing from enrolled families that powel is not guaranteeing even sibling preference for kindergarten.

    it looks like lea & wilson are the only options available … and with the recent commitment to lea by the west philadelphia coalition for neighborhood schools and the already very high parent involvement, lea seems the best option.

  7. Suzanne Says:

    you know, starting out at lea for kindergarten while this surge of energy is building just might work out well. my daughter’s student teacher from pas took a job at lea and she’s great. it’s possible the momentum is there and the future will get better and better.

  8. drd Says:

    Actually I see this as good news for the neighborhood. It’s not Penn that’s made PAS a great public school; it’s parents committed enough and involved enough in their kids’ education to risk hypothermia for it. If we can get just a dozen or so of those frozen, turned-away parents to bring their kids and their involvement to Lea, we can have two great schools, two coveted catchments, then on to Wilson for three, and so on. I also welcome the opportunity to see the embarrasing gap in educationial opportunity in this neighborhood close, and to see Penn better fulfill it’s lately-neglected “partnership” responsibilities to Lea and Wilson. It’s been too long that the SDP’s $500/ Lea and Wilson student has been given to Penn to be funnelled into PAS. It’s time for Penn–and for us as a community–to do right by all our kids and all our neighborhood schools.

  9. concerned parent Says:

    It is unethical that one SDP school – Penn Alexander – get $1300 more per child (or about $700,000/year) than any other Philadelphia school. Penn also gives a lot of other supports – from grounds keeping to professional development to…. Lea, Wilson, Huey, Harrington, etc. also need support.

  10. Aisha Says:

    I am one parent who is glad that Penn Alexander is limiting enrollment. As a result of the partnership between Penn and the School District there are many children and parents throughout this West Philadelphia community who possess a sense of entitlement. West Philadelphia as a whole approximately houses 44.2 % African Americans and 39% White Americans. But if you take a deeper look at the demographics surrounding PAS these trends are reversed dramatically. Similary at PAS the school is amost equal in population between African American students and White (36.1/ 31.8) however other schools that have been pillars in this community for decades are struggling to maintain enrollment, human capital resources and almost exclusively service African Americans in the area. Research has shown that children benefit from diversity and inclusion. With that comes valuable resources and growth. One of The sad things that I have realized is, the University of Pennsylvania manages both Lea and Wilson but do not invest nearly as much time and efforts as they do into PAS. As an Early Childhood educator and professional I find it appalling when last year I attended a conference at UPenn, a Professor bragged about not having to send her child to Wilson because the PAS was available to her family. I do see why UPenn and PAS has left a bad taste in many peoples mouths. I am a married mother and African American where between my husband I posses 2 BA and 4 Master Degrees. We havea 4 year old and one on the way and my daily struggle is where will we send our children. What school is going to offer a deep commitment to education.

  11. Karen Allen Says:

    If Penn is sincerely interested in creating an exellent educational opportunity for all of the area’s students (and not simply creating an upper-class buffer zone around its campus)then why not recreate the Penn Aleander successes at Wilson, Lea, Huey, Powell…

  12. Jerm Says:

    isn’t Drew closer than Powel by a couple blocks? Regardless, somehow I doubt someone who paid $450k for a house would stand for that.

  13. Linda Says:

    Penn and PAS must be out of their minds if they think catchment area folks are going to stand for this. As a parent directly affected by the “catchment area buzz,” we moved to ensure that our kids would get into what was then the best school around. Now, I’m not knocking Lea (sounds like a great option, actually), but I specifically moved into this neighborhood so my kids could walk to school and go to PAS. PENN and associates benefited HUGELY in marketing area homes with “in the catchment area.” The school also CONSISTENTLY assured us that we were guaranteed spots b/c of where we lived. And now they want to pull this crap? Complete and utter horse…well, you know the rest….

  14. Sara Says:

    Whoa…this is a lot to absorb.
    We recently moved into the catchment…living in a place we can barely afford but loving the neighborhood and considering it an investment in our kids’ future education.
    I very much appreciate DRD’s comments and agree that quality education should be accessible all children, so if this helps that expand by improving more schools in our area that’s a great outcome.
    I do however have a ton of questions (my kids aren’t school-aged yet so I don’t really know how this all works):
    so, is there no school that is obligated to take our kids? if we don’t get a spot in our neighborhood school (PAS) we’re just supposed to apply to other schools and hope for the best?! If I wanted to apply to charter schools or apply to other neighborhood schools I would not have moved into ‘the catchment’.
    My children may have to attend separate schools?!
    are there no future plans to expand PAS in the future?
    How will enrollment for kindergarten happen if not a lottery? Should I line up now for my 3yr old to get a kindergarten spot?!
    How much of a dip in our home’s value should we expect?
    I’m sure a lot of this has yet to be figured out…but I would appreciate any info from people who know.
    I also agree with Linda’s comments – this is a pretty provactive move by the school and is sure to be met with some uproar/push-back.

  15. Suzanne Says:

    Sara-

    I was talking to some realtors last night who indicated there is no guarantee when people buy into the catchment that their kid has a spot at PAS. I talked to PAS in the fall and was told that when they get to the point of turning kids away from 1st grade on up (kindergarten is not compulsory) they will “make a call downtown” to try to get the child into another school, such as Meredith, McCall, Greenfield. It souds like Powel is filled to the brim. While there has traditionally been a lot criticism levied at parents who pull their middle school kids out of PAS to place them in Masterman or GAMP, honestly this frees up room in middle school. It’s pretty clear to me there is no discussion about expanding PAS. As for the lottery, I can’t wager a guess.

    It seems pretty clear that the housing boom in the catchment area was driven by this school and that neither PAS nor the district are responsible for this and have zero obligation to do anything more than they already are.

    Welcome to the neighborhood and good luck!

  16. LW Says:

    “I was talking to some realtors last night who indicated there is no guarantee when people buy into the catchment that their kid has a spot at PAS.”

    That is true. I would not take everything that realtors say at face value, though. This hasn’t stop them advertising houses in the catchment as “In Catchment Area!!!” for years. And everyone knows what that is supposed to mean.

    Anyway this is just an email so far. It’s not official policy yet. I am sure “District spokeswoman Shana Kemp” is going to have to answer some questions about this.

  17. Mike Lyons Says:

    Hi. I wrote this original story and we’re trying to follow up with something that raises all the questions that have been voiced here and elsewhere, though we likely won’t have many answers yet.

    One thing I will say in response to LW’s point above that this is not official policy yet is that, having been a journalist for 20 years, this feels to me to be about as official as it is going to get for the foreseeable future. It took us days to get this answer from the district, so this wasn’t an off-the-cuff statement from Shana Kemp. When we asked school officials repeatedly to help us clear up the rumors they simply said, “tell people to call the school.” Clearly, this has not been thought all the way through.

    The bottom line is that the district and the school has not been proactive about this so parents should be. This is Philadelphia – You might be waiting a long time if you are waiting for an “official policy.”

  18. LW Says:

    Thanks for the clarification, Mike. That makes sense. I think I was trying to see the glass as half full.

  19. John Says:

    Is anyone out there qualified to weigh in on the legality of refusing students within the catchment and / or the legal rights of parents who paid a premium to buy in the catchment? 

    As of this morning the PAS website claims that “Any school-age child living within this [catchment] area is eligible to attend the school.”  If that statement is incorrect, could it be grounds for a class action lawsuit?

  20. Sara Says:

    In respsonse to Suzanne – My question of ‘obligation’ was not meant to be a idealist one (we can debate that later!)
    I actually wanted to know if there is any technical obligation to the families who live within the catchment boundaries.
    For example, it was my understanding in my former neighborhood that unless we chose to pursue a charter school, our kids had a secure spot at our neighborhood by default…I thought that was how neighborhood schools worked! Am I wrong on this?
    It seems like maybe I am just back where I started in terms of the anxiety about charter schools, lotteries, commutes to school/activities…except that now I have a much higher mortgage to boot! And no guaranteed spot to fall back on…

  21. Ellie Says:

    For those of us unable to afford living in the catchment area, I find it appaling that the school would be able to “make a call downtown” and get spots for children in other coveted schools. The school should be required to make room to accomodate those in the catchment, not take up more spots in other schools just because people “paid a premium” to live in a certain public school catchment. I also don’t understand why Penn pays $1300 for each student at the school, and charges Lea and Wilson $500 per child (schools in lower income areas) for whatever they offer there. I guess that’s one way to raise the $700,000 they need.

  22. drd Says:

    When the district makes “the decision to assign students elsewhere” (Ms. Kemp, above), I very seriously doubt it’s going to be to Greenfield, Meredith, or McCall, all schools that I’ll bet are watching carefuly how this plays out because they’re also at or close to capacity. Much more likely, they’ll be assigned to the next closest public school, which for PAS catchment kids is probably Lea, Wilson, or Drew.

  23. Mark Says:

    @John asks:
    “Is anyone out there qualified to weigh in on the legality of refusing students within the catchment and / or the legal rights of parents who paid a premium to buy in the catchment?

    As of this morning the PAS website claims that “Any school-age child living within this [catchment] area is eligible to attend the school.” If that statement is incorrect, could it be grounds for a class action lawsuit?”

    @John, I’m not a lawyer, but I will note that the statement of eligibility above is not a guarantee, and it is correct. All school age children living in the catchment area are eligible. You can be eligible for something (a contest, the presidency, etc) and not attain it. Eligibility is merely a pre-requisite.

  24. Alici Says:

    All of the parents that are considering Lea School as an option. I went to register my kindergartener there and felt so horrible for even thinking about registering there. All in the half hour that we were filling out the application, the secretaries were talking about getting drunk and the alcoholic beverages that they like drinking. They called a police officer in for a student, and as we were walking out I heard a teacher yelling, “shut up” to the children. For myself as a parent I will not be allowing my child to go there.

  25. Amara Says:

    @Alici, I hope you will come to the Lea kindergarten open house and meet the fantastic kindergarten teachers, Ms. Myktyiuch and Ms. McCloskey.

    Ms. Mykytiuch and her students were featured on this Penn GSE podcast: https://www.gse.upenn.edu/pps/storytime

    I have personally witnessed her using those same techniques discussed in her classroom. She is very good and SHE would be the person your child would be spending the bulk of his/her day with.

  26. Amara Says:

    @Alici, Finally, thank you for bringing this to our attention. Members of the Coalition will be bringing the support staff issues up with the principal and this WILL BE addressed.

  27. David H Says:

    @Alica & Amara, although this episode is unacceptable I wouldn’t accept it as representing the entire school. Teachers should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. I do wonder if, similar to the Nettlehorst model, Dr. Bells Chiles would allow parents into the school at all times and let them sit in the classroom to observe? This might help to weed out the bad apples.

  28. stephanie Says:

    kindergarten is not an island.

  29. Amara Says:

    @Stephanie, True, but the kindergartens are a peninsula! The kindergarten rooms at Lea are in a separate wing from the rest for the building and have their own separate playground (the one on Locust as opposed to the schoolyard on 47th). Though they are in rooms 101 and 102, they are separated from the main building by a 1/2 flight of stairs, so they aren’t even on the same floor really as the rest of the 100 level rooms.

    But believe me, the Coalition is working on the whole continent!

  30. Alici Says:

    Thank you for responding to my post. It is possible that the teachers for kindergarten in Lea are excellent, but it is the whole staff that worries me. I would prefer my child not be around an environment such as this one. I could tell you exactly which room the teacher was screaming in as for it was right in the entrance. For a prospective parent it leads for a very bad reputation for the school. Not only that if I place my child in Lea for kindergarten, she will be attending this school for several years and I would like every teacher to be like the kindergarten teacher. I understand I should not judge all of the teachers of Lea, but I really got a bad impression. It is hard to even consider sending my child to a school like Lea.

  31. Amara Says:

    @Alici, Please do consider coming to the Kindergarten Open House at Lea on Monday May 23rd. In addition to the kindergarten open house from 8:45 to 9:30, there will be a meet and greet with the principal beforehand (8:20-8:40) and a school tour and meeting with the HSA president afterwards.

  32. Maurice Jones Says:

    Alici,

    Although I am not directly responsible, I am devastated to find out this was your experience. I abhor degrading behavior, and must apologize for the atmosphere you unfortunately were subject to. I have had great teachers teaching my son at Lea, and would not jeopardize his future if I did not think there were possibilities for greatness here. This is personally discouraging to me, because anyone who is making that step of faith should be treated like royalty instead of the manner in which you were. Anyone who steps in that front door I consider family, and it feels like one of my relatives have been wronged.

    I am disheartened but not broken. I will keep up the fight to make Lea a preferred neighborhood school, because this community deserves one. The pieces are not all there, but somehow I will find them, alone or with compatriot’s.

    My apologies,

    Maurice

  33. Natalie Says:

    @ everyone having a negative comment about Lea School. I have been a Lea School Parent for 6 years and I have never experienced this type of behavior that is being explained on this site. I have had nothing but positive communication with the school staff as well as the office staff. If there was a problem, it was handled in a professional manner. The school is not perfect, but neither is any school. I am really upset how someone who actually is located in the school would not let the people know that this is not the type of behavior that they have seen on a PERSONAL BASIS!

  34. lbellchiles Says:

    Dear Prospective Lea parents,

    I am quite concerned about the parent who stated that she came to Lea on May 13th to register her child for kindergarten and heard inappropriate statements made by school district personnel in the office. I have worked with parents, teachers, and children for over 20 years and I always expect everyone to show respect towards each other. My teachers and office staff know my expectations and do accommodate. My teachers are dedicated and committed to working with children.

    I spend a lot of time speaking to parents, to meet the concerns of their children academically. My parents have my personal cell phone if they need to speak with me. Parents have called me during weekdays after 7:00 PM and on weekends because of a specific concern that they had. I always say, “If it concerns you it concerns me.” If you speak to some of my parents, many of them who don’t leave in the catchment area however, they will tell you why they have requested that their children attend the Lea school. Parents and children come to Lea because the teachers and administration are quite concerned about the children. Teachers meet before and after school with each other, children, and with parents making the adjustments necessary for children to achieve.

    If any parent comes into the Lea School and sees something that is so alarming during their visit they should ask to speak to the principal immediately. They can write me a note about their visit and then I can address the concern. I would meet with parents or set up a meeting time to discuss their concerns. I would make an apology if necessary but I need to be made aware that a concern exists at the time, especially if the parent is in the building at the time that the incident occurs. I would rather meet with the adult(s) then to have parents go to a blog to discuss their concerns. I have never discussed Lea on a blog before, but I guess there is a first time for everything. I have an open door policy. As parents meet each other and the principal they will find out that the principal keeps the lines of communication open at all times.

    Feel free to speak with me about the Lea school.

  35. Suzanne Says:

    Is the author of the above post (lbellchile) the principal of Lea Elementary?

  36. Amara Says:

    Yes, Dr. Lisa Bell-Chiles is the principal of Lea Elementary.

  37. Yumi Says:

    To Amara and Alici

    I live in Penn’s catchemnt, but my son has been going to Lea’s kinder since last September.
    I have a lot of thoughts and opinions about Lea school based on facts I have observed and experienced.
    I would like to share my experiences with you. I think it will be helpful for you to know reality (positive and negative.)
    If you don’t mind that I want to join your open house for kinder. I always drop off my son at around 8:25 to kinder’s class which is next room.
    I don’t say Lea is good school, but I don’t think the school is horrible school either.
    However, they have problems and need to work on it.
    Hopefully, I can see you then.

  38. Amara Says:

    Lea Kindergarten Open House Schedule
    8:20 – 8:40 a.m Meet and Greet with Dr. B-C in the library
    8:45 – 9:30 a.m. Kindergarten Open House, Rooms 101 and 102
    9:35 – 10:00 a.m. Lea School Tour lead by Maurice Jones and Mr. Brown
    10:05 – 10:20 a.m. Ms. Mykytiuch will be free to talk to parents, Room 101
    10:25 – 10:45 a.m. Meeting with Lea HSA President Maurice Jones plus others back in the library
    10:50 – 11:05 a.m. Ms. McCloskey will be free to talk to parents, Room 102

    Understanding that the early start may be difficult for parents with young children, we have added meeting times with the kindergarten teachers and the HSA president after the tour with late arriving parents in mind. We’re trying to get a basic headcount so if you plan on coming, please respond to this poll: http://doodle.com/tnrxdas8mfi4784z

    The poll is private so you’re not making your commitment to attend public so no pressure in case you can’t make it for some reason. This will help me and the teachers guesstimate how many handouts to make. Thanks!

  39. Suzanne Says:

    hi amara- you sure seem involved with this. are you a lea teacher or parent? what is your role?

  40. Amara Says:

    I am a member of the West Philly Coalition for Neighborhood Schools which is helping to organize and publicize the Lea Kindergarten Open House.

  41. Suzanne Says:

    Hi again-

    And this coalition is made up of people who have no personal stake in the school? Not that there’s anything wrong with it. I’m just wondering what the make up is of the people in this coalition. Can you tell us more about it? For example, I’ve been peripherally involved with Parents United for Public Education. It’s pretty much all parents of school aged children in Philadelphia or teachers. Thanks!

    Suzanne

  42. Amara Says:

    Suzanne, our Google Group email list has grown to over 200 members since its inception in June 2010 so it’s difficult to characterize the membership. I would say parents with school-aged children, parents with younger children, parents with grown children, future parents, current teachers, former teachers, grad students, activists and community members with some people fitting into more than one category. Basically, anyone that is interested in making all of our neighborhood schools options for parents in West Philadelphia. We have recently decided to focus our efforts on Lea Elementary.

    If you have further questions, you can email me at arockar@gmail.com or even join at the Google Group and Facebook Group links listed in my initial message on this thread. Thanks!

  43. Beth Says:

    Hi Suzanne,
    This coalition is made up of anyone who lives in West Philadelphia and wants to support and improve our public schools locally. It includes parents of infants, toddlers, preschoolers and prospective parents who would like to be proactive before their children reach school age. It also includes parents of school aged children, teachers and members of local community education committees. I am a parent of a child at Penn Alexander. Anyone is welcome to join.

    It takes a village!

    -Beth

  44. andi Says:

    After conversations with important PAS folks (who will remain anonymous), I think it’s worth laying out the options THEY see for the future:

    1) Shrink the catchment. Would get ugly, obviously, as Real Estate Values get people so riled up. Perhaps, young children currently in the full catchment could be grandfathered, with a shrunken boundary taking effect at a certain date.

    2) Lottery. According to the PAS VIPs I spoke with, African-American parents in the catchment have strongly opposed this option, preferring to have a first-come lineup.

    3) Physically enlarge the school. Current principal is said to be against this, though she won’t be there forever. A major construction project would take years to plan, fund, and build (PAS took over 10 years to build originally). It may be possible to reconfigure current space a bit and add trailers (ugh) to take some of the pressure off. In my opinion, this is the most realistic plan catchment parents could lobby for (and maybe even help plan). Especially since the upper grades are under capacity, some shifting of space and personnel to grades 1-3 may be possible.

    4) First come, first served (don’t let everyone in). This is legal, and the most likely for now. And it will bring annual moments of pain and outrage.

    ONE LAST CAVEAT: the PAS staff and teachers not only run an elementary school in Philadelphia (an absurdly complex and unenviable job), they now have to deal with constant drama about admissions. Be kind. They did not cause this problem.

  45. Suzanne Says:

    Thanks, Andi-

    Does anyone know if they still allow teachers who live outside of catchment to enroll their children in PAS?

  46. jm Says:

    I don’t think that anyone blames the teachers and staff at PAS. They are as much the victims of poor planning and inability to acknowledge a problem until it is too late as anyone else.

  47. missy Says:

    What about enforcing the current catchment rules? The best guess is that 20-30% of students at the school do not live in the catchment.

  48. HF Says:

    Can someone explain why African-American parents, as opposed to Southeast Asian, African, Hispanic, Muslim, etc. parents, would be opposed to a lottery, and why is that particularly relevant in this diverse neighborhood? Where is the PAS HSA in all of this?

  49. Anon Says:

    Great ideas here! We should round up all of the PAS students in little rows in the schoolyard and demand to see their papers! Those who unable to prove residency will be stripped of their PAS sweatshirts, banned from the school and forced to walk home to whatever stupid neighborhoods they actually live in. This is totally the best and most productive direction for everyone’s energies! Way to go!

  50. andi Says:

    In my humble opinion, having seen what PAS does to police the residency requirement (at enrollment and ongoing), there are probably very few ineligible children enrolled. And the rumors about UPenn or district VIPs out side the catchment enrolling their kids are just rumors. The folks who run the school are dogged in monitoring residency and keeping a consistent policy. Picking up your kid in a car doesn’t mean you live far away.

    In response to an above question, it is my understanding that African-American parents have preferred a lineup for enrollment (something you can control) to a lottery (random). Again, I am passing on what PAS insiders have told me. I don’t know if that desire holds true for other parents. From the beginning, PAS has listened to the priorities of many constituencies, and African-American voices in the community are one crucial constituency.

    (And, for the record, I’m someone whose kid did not get a kindergarten spot. So, I feel you all. It is pretty heartbreaking.)

    This moment, when interest in PAS exceeds space, was inevitable. It was predicted at the founding of PAS, and everyone watching has known it would happen.

    The possible solutions are difficult, costly, politically charged, and require a lot of leadership. Build a second PAS? Expand the PAS building? Invest new resources in an existing elementary like Powel of Lea? Those are difficult, long-term projects, hard to launch when most parents are (rightly) focused on GETTING MY KID INTO A GOOD SCHOOL.

    And even if you shrink the catchment boundary, enrollment will soon exceed capacity again. And if you expand to add an additional PAS kindergarten/first grade class, enrollment will soon exceed capacity again.

    The resource (a good, free Philadelphia public school) is so desired and the cost of entry (renting on of the thousands of apartments in the catchment) is low. So distributing (rationing) the scarce resource of enrollment will likely be an issue for years to come.

  51. stephanie Says:

    powel already has their act together, with a strong and vocal H&S, and now with a larger commitment from drexel, they’re on their way to more resources and partnerships … the focus should be wilson & lea : existing schools who are doing well (testing-wise, and meeting AYP) the problem is that the district has these schools teaching scripted curriculum : limiting the freedoms of the teachers & principals … give them what PAS has and free these schools & their excellent administrators (sonia harrison at wilson & lisa bell-chiles at lea) from the chains of the district, and we could live in a neighborhood with three coveted elementary schools.

  52. Kimm Tynan Says:

    Stephanie,

    I’m sorry, but neither Lea nor Wilson are “doing well testing-wise” by any stretch of the imagination. Please don’t do that- don’t settle for garbage. If the kids in these schools have any hope, if these schools are ever going to be schools that parents can feel secure sending our kids to, then the people who advocate for them need to be angry, outraged, and say this is unacceptable, hold the schools accountable, not engage in an ostrich-in-the-sand PR marketing campaign promoting schools that are failing the kids.

    According to greatschools.com, only 39% of Lea’s 4th grade students tested at-or-above proficient in reading in 2010 . Grade 5, 29%, Grade 6, 27%. Lea is not testing “well.” These numbers are ABYSMAL! Wilson reading – grade 4 – 40%, grade 5 – 16!!!!!!!

    Stephanie, I understand that you are trying to be an advocate for these schools to try to improve them, but they absolutely will not improve if parents and other concerned citizens look at these numbers and say they are doing “well”! Sure, we can get into a debate about whether testing accurately reflects the teaching and learning that is happening at a school, but for the moment I’m limiting my point to the fact that you said Lea and Wilson are “doing well (testing-wise . . . .). And I strenuously disagree with that statement, I think it is hugely misleading, and I find it very worrisome that an advocate for these schools would call this “doing well.”

    As for Powel – I moved to West Philly long before PAS existed. I’ve lived here for 21 years. For better or worse, Penn drew the catchment lines to exclude us. But we always thought we would send our theoretical maybe-kids-to-be to Powel. It seemed to be a good school; I think it was. But when I started researching schools for my then three-year-old, I discovered to my horror that Powel’s test scores had been declining for three straight years, while most schools in the district were showing steady improvement. Then, last year, Powel’s scores plunged in the range of 20 – 30%. 43% of Powel 4th graders tested at or above proficient in reading in 2010, down from 71% in 2009. 49% in 2010 in math, down from 67 in 2009.

    People want to blame PAS for Powel’s problems for siphoning off middle-class families, and maybe there is something to that, but I actually have a different theory. It looks to me as if Powel’s test scores started declining after Marjorie Neff left Powel and took over as principal at Masterman. But maybe that is just a coincidence.

    Anyway, Stephanie, I’m not at all looking to beat you or any of the advocates for Lea or Wilson or Powel up. I want these schools to succeed – but they won’t if their advocates make excuses for them and bury their heads in the sand. I believe that kids and grownups excel when we are held to high expectations – please don’t lower your expectations.

    In solidarity,

    Kimm

  53. Suzanne Says:

    From what I’ve heard bout Powell, the decline in their results can e traced back to the departure of Marge Neff. The replacement principal wasn’t up to the task and leadership failed. They also lost a staggering amount of funding creating fully packed classrooms with little to no classroom teaching assistants. When y girls were there the school district still had a progam in place to train non-traditional education students how to be teachers. These “interns” were partially funded by the district and typically in their 30’s. They added maturity and sparkle to the classroom experience and many good teachers were nurtured through that program. The interns were there for a year or more and added stability as well. I’m not sure exactly when then dried up, but it was in the last 5 years. Powell’s adult to student ratios were low because of the interns and now that they are gone I’m told the classrooms are packed to the brim with no assistants and one teacher to manage it all.

    There’s plenty of talent-teachers and students-at Powell. I’m told there is great promise with the new principal and I know the HSA is on top of things. I think Powell is going to correct the erosion .

    It makes me sad to see how

  54. David H Says:

    @ Kimm, just so you know there is a large group of parents and community members that are beginning to put big effort in Lea Elementary. There is no “ostrich-in-the-sand PR marketing campaign” I can assure you. Good schools come from engaged parents, superlative teachers and a good principal managing the school. We could focus on test score results and PSSAs but that alone will not improve the quality of our community schools.

    I agree that the test scores from many of the local schools are disturbing and should be cause for concern. However, we need to focus on local solutions and understanding root causes and issues at each school. This is going to required engaged parents involved in their community school. We will not be cannot completely turn around a school in one year, but I am realistically hopeful that with our collective energy and expertise we can raise to the quality for all students, be it at Lea, Wilson, or any neighborhood school.

  55. Amara Says:

    @Kimm, If you only look at the charts of doom on the district website, it is hard to find much encouraging. If you read the school’s annual report (a link at the bottom the same page) you will find what the school’s target scores for the past year and whether they met the target, missed with growth or just missed. This information provides a much better picture of what is expected and what is achieved at the school. A school generally doesn’t get from 40% to 80% overnight (like at Roosevelt) unless there is cheating. A school can, however, improve incrementally and make AYP. I think that was what Stephanie was referring to.

    Moreover, using the Pennsylvania Value Added Assessment metric which measures student growth (where they started and where they ended up as opposed to just what they scored), Lea actually does slightly better in Math than PAS. PVAAS may confirm what many have long suspected – that teachers and students in low-achieving schools are in fact working their butts off but the efforts aren’t reflected in the PSSA scores. So if the PSSAs are not capturing that, what are they really measuring anyway?

    I think many people in the neighborhood have a dual mindset where they recognize something is terribly wrong with all the focus on high stakes testing but at the same time feel they should send their kids to a school with good high stakes scores. I don’t think we can convince parents to send their kids to Lea sight unseen. I do think if parents get into the school and meet the wonderful teachers (as 60 of them did this Monday) they may be able to see beyond the scores, what is possible.

  56. stephanie Says:

    @kimm … while i will agree that my attitude regarding testing scores at lea & wilson is strongly laissez-faire, i don’t necessarily think that’s it’s wrong.

    i will say i am not a fan of government testing as a true measure of a child’s learning & achievement, but i do know that these kids are working their tushies off so that they can break free of the district’s restrictions. but i am sorry if my statements came off as flip, or dismissive, because for some parents test scores are important, and i didn’t mean to diminish their impact.

    i was trying to stress that *if* these schools’ restrictions could be instantly lifted, and *if* they were given the hiring / financial freedoms afforded PAS and a strong and vocal home & school associations are formed they *could be* coveted elementary schools. obviously, no one (except the district machine) can snap their fingers and make it happen in five seconds, but the WPCNS is on the ground, doing good things (brilliant = LEAmonade!) and making it so that parents *could be* comfortable, happy and confident sending their children to lea, and eventually alexander wilson elementary.

    now, are those reasons to send your (or my) kid to one of these neighborhood schools now? i can’t say. even the “coveted” sadie alexander doesn’t make my skirt fly up, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a decent, happy school … i think there’s room for all points of view, and criticism and skepticism is a healthy part of the continuing conversation.

  57. Alicia Says:

    Hello everyone,

    I do have a question regarding the PAS. My child did not get into PAS this year. She was put on PAS waiting list. Is she going to be able to get a 1st grade position with all of this new stuff going on?

  58. Mike Lyons Says:

    @Alicia – It’s hard to say if she will get in. The school could best answer that – 215-823-5465. If your child did not get into kindergarten, but was placed on the waiting list, we are told that he or she will have a better shot at first grade. But again, this is unclear and you should call to school to try to get some definitive answer. You might want to mention to them that there are a lot of people out there in your position and that it would be very helpful if they had some kind of public platform to explain what is going on.
    Best,
    Mike

  59. andi Says:

    Alicia,

    We went through the same thing last year. We were on the kindergarten waiting list, didn’t get in. (I think we were 12th on the waiting list, #63 overall in the lineup.) They told us (unofficially) they would admit the waitlisted kids FIRST for first grade spots, and they did. In early May of this year.

    There are more spots in first grade than kindergarten. The exact number depends on how big the first grade classes are. That is certainly something you could ask: how many first grade spots are there this year? Compare that with where you are on the waiting list, and you’ll have some sense of where you stand.

    We also checked in (gently) a couple times during the year to make sure things were still in line. It was a long wait, but they did do what they said they would do.

  60. Alicia Says:

    Thanks everyone,

    That is good news to hear right now after such a fight for a kindergarten spot all over this area. This year she will be attending a private school, and hopefully next year PAS keeps their word.

  61. Barb Says:

    Odd and late question… If the enrolement is so low in 5-8 grades, why not make the school K-4? It would free up the space to double the number of slots.

  62. suzanne Says:

    well, not “low”. more like 22-26 per grade versus the 26 cap in the lower grades. and then you have a whole new issue if they have to find a place to go for 5th-8th grade. our oldest was at powell, which ends at 4th grade. not all kids are a good fit for masterman middle school, which only takes about 165 for fifth grade, city wide.

  63. school daze Says:

    Lea School will shoot up as more engaged parents enroll their children in it. The principal is terrific; there are many great, dedicated teachers there. The only missing ingredient is an expansion of involved parents. A great school is made up of great teachers, a great principal, and concerned parents. While additional funding is a plus, it’s not a necessity. Many European schools, by American standards, are “underfunded,” yet their students these days typically surpass ours in educational achievements because they’re not hung up on technology and facilities; rather, they focus on learning the basics.

  64. Franklin Says:

    Penn is not interested in creating an excellent education opportunity for everyone. The school has specific goals and those goals serve Penn first and its employees and students second. Anything else is a distant third. Believe that.

    My question is simple–why not ask parents at Lea and/or Wilson to make or raise contributions of $1300/child to give to those schools. Would it make the kind of difference that is ‘experienced’ at Sadie Alex?

    Is it something that people are willing to consider? If the options are do nothing or attend private school for MUCH more than that?

    It is something worthwhile to consider. I know I would do my part.

  65. Jeremy Leipzig Says:

    $1300 is probably less than 10% of the cost of low-end of private education.

    I don’t think any public school system is equipped or even allowed to solicit donations anything like this size. Can you find an example anywhere in the US?

  66. Franklin Says:

    No, I can’t but I wonder if “Friends of Lea” were to develop a fund based on some amount of money-per-pupil it could be used to support work in classrooms.

    Imagine if there were 5 parents in a class who could afford to give $1300 and the rest were willing to seek support/fundraise. You’re starting the year with a $6500 egg for projects and classroom improvement that benefits current and future students.

    I am guessing that there are several families in each grade who could make that kind of donation. Would the principal accept? I don’t know. Would the district balk? They don’t mind the fact that Penn is doing it, right?

  67. Suzanne Says:

    @franklin- we kicked this idea around at masterman. my concerns were that public schools are funded from a common pot and logically, all money raised belongs to the district. so, a group of parents could hustle up a bunch of cash only to have it allocated outside of their home school. it’s probably different for charter schools, but i don’t see how one public school could hold on to thousands of extra dollars.

  68. Amara Says:

    There are ways to do it but it requires a resolution before the SRC to have donations go directly to the school. There are restrictions as to what the donations can fund. Since the SRC only meets once a month now to pass resolutions, the timing can be tricky but it can be done and was done at the last meeting:
    http://webgui.phila.k12.pa.us/uploads/o5/I6/o5I6dd59oxotQKR32YniGw/Resolution-List-2.16.12-Final.pdf

    With all the projects the West Philly Coalition for Neighborhood Schools has going on, we are actively looking into this.

    However, even more important, is ensuring the adequate and equitable funding of the school district from the state to begin with. Those interested may want to sign this online petition to Governor Corbett

    http://signon.org/sign/fund-public-education-1

  69. DD Says:

    @franklin–you have the right idea here when you talk about a group of people pitching in to fund education for all our kids. That’s the principle behind public education, after all. We all need to do what we can to promote public education and to remind people that public funding of public education is the responsibility of, and of benefit to, all of us, not just parents of kids in one school or another.

  70. Franklin Says:

    @Suzanne I can’t imagine that they’d turn away additional dollars earmarked for the school, would they? Problems I see arising are that once given, the administrator would have final say about the use of the money and the donors might not like it. Oh well. Fact is, an influx of cash into a school that allowed for improvements would benefit everyone.

    The other option would be to create a “granting organization” that held the funds and either used the funds to purchase needed goods/services or gave the funds to the school for such purposes.

    Should someone become interested in creating a “Friends of Lea Elementary,” I would be interested in participating and my kids are not even in school. If Amara Rocker is reading this, maybe she knows if that is something that the school would be willing to discuss.

  71. Franklin Says:

    @DD right but clearly “public edu” as we know it is dying a slow and painful death–and costly. If concerned parents could do this at one school maybe it would catch on. We are not rich by any standard but when we consider private education as our only option, what’s a few grand in the much larger and more practical picture? I would gladly pay 2x my (too high) property taxes to know that it was going to DIRECT BENEFIT of my local school.

    That’s the catch with the Penn School. Their additional $1300 is direct benefit, not just $1300 into the machine. Think of what you could do if you had UPenn’s buying power (discounts) and $1300 to spend on your kid every year.

    Who’s in? I’m in.

  72. DD Says:

    @frankiln
    what you’re proposing–money paid by parents directly to a particular school for uses to be determined solely by the administration–is private school.

    Of course we should donate to our kids’ schools; I do. But, even the phila public schools that regularly raise tens of thousands of dollars a year aren’t able to implement the direct dollar-to-student ratio you’re suggesting would make all the difference.

    I don’t think it’s the 1330 that makes all the difference at PAS, btw. Involved parents provide much greater value than anything Penn gives, other than their name, which is valuable primarily in its attractiveness to involved parents.

  73. stephanie Says:

    i wonder though … individual public schools solicit donations from parents – in times of budgetary crisis, for example. or the word-of-mouth need is expressed somehow, and parents step up when they can – i think most recently at either jackson or meredith.

    why couldn’t informal and strictly voluntary donations be guaranteed to benefit a particular school directly?

  74. DD Says:

    @stephanie–
    Of course HSAs collect donations all the time and for all sorts of specific expensess, but that’s different in both principle and practice from asking parents to pay what amounts to tuition–inexpensive and voluntary as it may be–at a public school.

  75. school daze Says:

    Before handing any school $1300, you’d want very clear accountability. It probably can’t go toward teacher salaries (ie, reduced class sizes) but it could go toward teaching assistants. But you wouldn’t want some mean, uneducated, screaming teacher assistants who only add to the nightmare of bad public school education. To work effectively with an assistant, you’d need teachers who are well-organized, assign homework, etc., and then Teaching Assistants who are themselves decently educated and trained to assist with children’s homework.

    Another good use of such money would be to re-acculturate teachers in these neglected public schools. Many of them need work on such things as classroom management skills, student motivation, teaching to different learning styles, etc. The main reason teachers at PAS are good is because the parents of these kids know a fair amount about what education is supposed to look like. This is not the case at most West Phil public schools, where teachers are not held accountable for their behavior or their teaching, and it shows for all but the dedicated few who don’t need such oversight to do a good job.

  76. Chris Says:

    My son was waitlisted for PAS, after I waited 25 hrs in the freezing rain. I recently heard that the fourth kindergarden class PAS added is full of the headstart children (irregardless of whether or not they lived in the catchment). Is this true? If so, this is absolutely outrageous!

  77. Anon Says:

    @Chris, I think you should be complaining that they added a class while decreasing the class sizes from 20 to 18 effectively adding only 12 new seats, not that out-of-catchment Head Start children (and some HS are in-catchment) are allowed to continue on to kindergarten as is customary throughout the district. Unless you really want to get behind the rallying cry of “POOR KIDS: GET OUT! MINE! MINE!” then by all means…

  78. Charles Says:

    Maybe they waitlisted him because you use the word “irregardless”.

  79. stephanie Says:

    outrageous is that neighboring schools
    like lea & wilson are struggling for funding while penn gives just a smidge of its billion? trillion? zillion? dollar endowment to one little PUBLIC school and continues to pay no property taxes to the city of philadelphia.

  80. Robin W Says:

    @stephanie, $6.6 billion up from $5.7 billion in 2010.

    http://www.seventy.org/OurViews_How_Philly_Works_An_Answer_to_City_Revenue.aspx

    “Penn also points to the countless services the university and its health system provide to city residents, often free of charge, and its significant investments to economic growth in West Philadelphia. Penn’s Vice-President for Government and Community Affairs recently told the university’s newspaper: ‘[T]he services delivered by the ‘eds and meds’ in Philadelphia’s non-profit community outweigh any benefit that might be obtained through a voluntary PILOT program.'”

  81. Happy Curmudgeon Says:

    Nothing is free of charge. To allude to it is nonsense on their part. Not apples and oranges–even farther off. It is simply that the services they reference may not be fee-for-service. Residual neighborhood influence of a large university and health system are similar nationwide. It may not be appreciated but they should know that they will receive scrutiny when money is tight. We all do.

    They can’t pretend, though, that their ventures and interests are not the driving force behind everything they do. It is all an investment in their sustainability first.

  82. Chris Says:

    @Charles: Irregardless originated in dialectal American speech in the early 20th century. Its fairly widespread use in speech called it to the attention of usage commentators as early as 1927. The most frequently repeated remark about it is that “there is no such word.” There is such a word, however. It is still used primarily in speech, although it can be found from time to time in edited prose. Its reputation has not risen over the years, and it is still a long way from general acceptance.

    @Anon, not everyone in the catchment is well off. There are poor families living here, we sacrifice a great deal to afford these overpriced apartments just so our kids can get a good education.

  83. Anon Says:

    Oh god Chris, do you think at this point anyone paying attention to this issue hasn’t been reminded of that a dozen times already? Rather than focus on keeping the class sizes at 20 or I daresay increasing them to 22(!), you would rather single out your fellow poor families and tell them to GTFO of “your” school. MINE! MINE! GIMME! GIMME!

  84. stephanie Says:

    an idea would be to turn the proposed closing of Alexander Wilson school into a penn/drexel/usp/district supported K3-4-5/1st/2nd grade. lea & sadie alexander would also be collaboratively supported for 3rd-8th graders.

    share the wealth! the knowledge! the coveted teachers! and kill the lines in subzero temperatures.

    and continue to spread the collaborations throughout the city …

  85. GoldenMonkey Says:

    stephanie, why do you feel entitled to Penn’s money?

    Perhaps I’m reading through the lines, but you seem to feel that somehow Penn owes you and your children something. For the life of me, I can’t figure it out.

  86. LW Says:

    Well to be fair Penn does say that it does this work on its own web site:

    “To fulfill Penn’s commitment to local engagement- an important part of President Amy Gutmann’s Penn Compact- Penn is collaborating with local communities on many bold iniatives. Penn seeks to promote safe neighborhoods, attract and support area businesses, encourage homeownership, and improve public education. The Center for Community Partnerships oversees a powerful array of projects and programs, with multiple initiatives to improve West Philadelphia education, including developing early-childhood reading and math skills, raising interest in science, and bridging the digital divide.”

  87. stephanie Says:

    in no way do I feel entitled to anything, let alone penn’s money. I do not live in the “coveted” catchment – and even if we had happened to find ourselves within the borders, we would have given careful consideration to wether or not we would have sent our kid there.

    we are in the Wilson catchment – soon to be moving because we will neither pay inflated rents or mortgages to live where such inequity is allowed (encouraged?) to flourish.

    penn gives 1300 per PAS student – if they took that same money and spread it around to an expanded preschool/kindergarten and a concentrated, diverse elementary school, the larger neighborhood would benefit, rather than a few.

    my idea comes from a conversation I had with a friend with lives in a nj district whose growth explosion is on such a scale that they took a K-5 and converted it to just kindergarten.

    don’t assume I’m looking for any kind of hand out – from penn or from this crippled district. I’ve visited some “coveted” schools, and guess what, they’re still in this corrupted district – where administrators are more concerned with bottom lines rather than progressive, forward-thinking education, nutrition and family services.

    penn gives their funding freely (or do they? i have no idea) the district & the city should be expecting more from an institution whose $800,000 contribution to a few is a pittance compared with its billion dollar endowment.

    otherwise, demand penn pay property taxes and whatever else they’re abated from
    paying.

  88. Jerm Says:

    $1300/per student/per year is not much – it adds up to $6500 for grades K-4.

    And yet people pay a $80k+ premium to live in the catchment if you study house prices along the border streets. This is the equivalent of 4 years of Friend Select, except of course you get this money back when you sell your house. Market forces have a odd way of making themselves felt.

  89. Chris Says:

    Anon, apparently you mistakened me, I am one of those poor families, I don’t even bring in 20K a year, yet I sacrifice and go without ALOT for my children to go to PAS. I live waaaaayyy below the poverty line, yet I left the projects, knowing the sacrifice it was going to take to be able to live here. So yes I do feel like my children have more of a right than the others!

  90. Anon Says:

    Jerm, the schools NOT receiving money from Penn beg to differ as to whether $1330 per student is “much” or not. $1330 times 553 students is $735,490 and has already been stated in this thread that Penn provides additional in-kind support (groundskeeping etc.). PAS’s budget from the SDP is $4 million. How can you say that money from Penn insignificant?

    Moreover, the School District of Philadelphia, if it does not receive additional funding from the city or state, is going to enact drastic cuts to the school level in 2012-2013. However, Penn Alexander with its additional funding and its ENDOWMENT will largely be cushioned from these blows. As a result its parent body, including some of the wealthiest (yes, I know there are poor families too but that isn’t the point), most powerful and well-connected public school parents in the city, aren’t making a peep of protest. How tragic is that?

  91. Jerm Says:

    Yes based on people’s behaviors it must be significant. Penn has in effect created a de facto private school using public school funds without vouchers. So we see the demand for this type of public/private hybrid is so high in the city that people will spend $80,000 in real estate to get $6650 in subsidies.

  92. Anon Says:

    In honor of the SDP’s passage of the FY2013 budget last night:

    First they came for E. M. Stanton,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t an E. M. Stanton parent.

    Then they came for Sheppard,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Sheppard parent.

    Then they came for Creighton,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Creighton parent.

    Then they came for Penn Alexander,
    and there was no one left to speak out for me.

  93. Stewie Says:

    Why should the Samuel Powel students have to suffer with an increased student to teacher ratio by receiving students from the Penn Alexander Catchment basin???

  94. school daze Says:

    Let’s not just point fingers at Penn. Let’s be sure to point fingers at all the corporations and organizations, as well as the Public Parking Authority (PPA) which was supposed to be giving a goodly portion of parking violation money to Philadelphia schools and renigged. Meanwhile the state is reinvesting a bundle of money on new cars, new uniforms, new cutting-edge computer monitoring and kiosks of parking. And let’s also point a finger at those of us who don’t want to pony up for additional property taxes. We’re all in this boat together, pals. We’re all greedy arses who want someone else to pay for everything, and want to sit on the sidelines whining.

  95. Anon Says:

    The PPA is paying out $14 million this year to the school district up from a fraction of that in recent years (true they had to be dragged into paying up by activists but they’ve since seemed to have kept on it). The PPA is still top heavy as an organization but more money is flowing to the city and district. A better target would be the OPA, which no longer has employees on the SDP payroll but the SDP has to kick in something like $4 million/year towards the collecting of property taxes.

  96. Anonymous Says:

    Why did the Philadelphia School Partnership present PAS as an option for parents looking to transfer their children? Have to assume that the school was not aware that was the true purpose of the visit.

    http://www.philly.com/philly/news/local/20121129_With_deadline_looming__a_bus_tour_of_schools.html

    Parents have only five options on the form that is due tomorrow and this organization, supposedly formed to help Philly parents, encouraged them to list a school that does not even accept voluntary transfers.

  97. Miriam Says:

    Wow. That is outrageous. Apparently PSP is pretty clueless about the school system.



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