A plan to keep middle school students in the Powelton Village neighborhood closer to home got a significant boost yesterday.
The Philadelphia School Partnership (PSP) awarded a $215,000 grant to devise a plan that would add a fifth grade to Powel Elementary, which is currently K-4, and create a new middle school in the neighborhood. The grant marks the first time that PSP, which manages a philanthropic education fund, has invested in a public school in the city.
“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,” Powel principal Kimberly Ellerbee said in a statement.
PSP awarded the grant to a consortium that includes Powel, Science Leadership Academy (SLA) and Drexel University. Drexel President John Fry sits on the board of directors at PSP, which has raised about $50 million in grants for private and charter schools. As a vice president at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1990s Fry was a key architect of the changes in the neighborhoods around Penn, including the creation of the University City District and the Penn Alexander School.
Officials from SLA, a top magnet school in the city, will consult on the creation of a middle school.
The Inquirer‘s Kristen A. Graham reports that members of the School Reform Commission approves of the plan in concept. The SRC, which is currently considering another round of school closures, would need to sign off on adding a grade and a new middle school.
Powel hopes to add the new grade by next fall and the middle school could be open as early as the fall of 2014.