Pa. House Bill Would Push Philly to Expand Charter Schools

A bill sponsored by House speaker Mike Turzai would require the School District of Philadelphia to open at least 3,000 charter seats a year.

teacher vacancies

Photo | It’s Our City via Flickr / Creative Commons

A bill in the Pennsylvania House would require the School District of Philadelphia to open at least 3,000 charter school seats a year. 

House Bill 700, introduced by House Speaker Mike Turzai, would aim to reduce the number of children on waiting lists for charter school enrollment in the state – which Turzai estimates is about 30,000 students.

“Charter schools are a lifeline for children who otherwise would be forced to attend poorly performing schools based solely on their residence,” the bill’s memo reads. “Particularly in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, the number of available charter school seats has not kept up with the high demand for enrollment.”

If passed, the bill would kick in in the 2017-18 school year continue through the 2012-22 school year. It would force a significant expansion of charter schools in school districts of the first class and the first class A, or school districts with populations that exceed 1,000,000 and 250,000, respectfully.

A recent study by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools found that 32 percent of students in the Philadelphia School District attend charter schools. The Inquirer reports that about 65,000 students are currently enrolled at 86 charter schools in the city, which ranks eighth in the country in the percentage of charter students, according NAPCS.

Uri Monson, the Philadelphia School District’s chief financial officer, told the newspaper that such a growth in charter enrollment would align with the district’s projections.

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