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Once A Flood, Applications For New Philadelphia Charters Slow To A Trickle

Once a hotbed of charter school expansion, Philadelphia has seen charter applications slow to a trickle.

Just four organizations applied for new charters during the 2016-17 application cycle. The district has also decided not to grow its Renaissance Schools program, through which charter operators take over struggling traditional public schools.

As a result, 2017 is shaping up to be a relatively quiet one on the charter front in the city.

Two years ago — in exchange for state approval of a city cigarette tax — the district re-opened its charter process and received nearly 40 applications. Last year, 12 organizations applied for a charter.

Some charter advocates see the slowdown in applications as evidence that Philadelphia has become unfriendly to charter expansion, and that prospective applicants are steering clear rather than contend with a tougher application process.