The School District of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Housing Authority plan to open a new high school in the Sharswood/Blumberg section of North Philadelphia by the fall of 2017.
Big Picture Schools will manage the new 504-student, four-year high school in the old Vaux High School Building, which PHA plans to purchase from the district for $2 million.
The agency has committed to investing $10 million to $15 million on renovations, and will provide an annual subsidy of up to $500 per student.
During the district’s presentation at the School Reform Commission meeting on Thursday night, a PowerPoint presentation showed the track record established by Big Picture. It boasts a 96 percent attendance rate, a 95 percent on-time graduation rate, 89 percent college acceptance rate, 74 percent work through learning internship experiences. The learning model is project based and through internships.
PHA President and CEO Kelvin Jeremiah said in a statement that creating a high quality school is a major step in helping to transform the Sharswood-Blumberg into a neighborhood of choice.
“We and our partners are building hundreds of homes, creating a commercial corridor and moving our headquarters to the neighborhood, but this innovative school will provide the glue that binds this community together,” Jeremiah said.
Vaux closed down in 2013 and students were sent to attend Strawberry Mansion High School or Benjamin Franklin High School.
“High school students often travel across the city to find quality schools that meet their needs and interests,” said Superintendent William R. Hite. “As we work toward our goal of great schools close to where children live, the district is proud to provide more educational opportunities in the growing Sharswood neighborhood.”
Hite added, “This unique partnership with Big Picture, the PHA and the (Philadelphia Teacher Federation) is the latest project in our innovation network, where we continue to create successful evidence-based school models, where instruction is more personalized, interest-based, and infused with technology.”
During the meeting, the SRC approved the academic calendars for the 2017-2018 and for 2018-2019 school years. Cheryl Logan, the district’s Chief Academic Support Officer, said 6,600 people responded to a survey where responses were welcomed regarding the calendar. On Nov. 6, 2018, school will remain closed. A few days that were half days were eliminated because parents said they posed a hardship.
The meeting was the last for Commissioner Sylvia Simms, who was appointed to the SRC by former Mayor Michael Nutter in 2013. Her term ends in January 2017.
“She has advocated for protecting the rights of our young people and has worked to help eliminate achievement gaps in our schools,” Hite said of Simms. “She has also pushed for more parental involvement to ensure our students succeed, no matter their age or circumstance. I would like to thank Commissioner Simms for her service. We are grateful for her contributions to our schools and communities.”