Vote falls short on Hill House Passport Academy Charter School

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The board of Pittsburgh Public Schools tonight did not have enough votes to approve a five-year charter to the proposed Hill House Passport Academy Charter School in the Hill District.

With seven members present, four voted in favor, three voted against and one abstained. Five votes were needed to pass. This means the school can file an appeal with the state or the members who were absent, opposed or abstained can bring it up for reconsideration.

The application is a resubmission made after the board in February tabled action. The original application called for the school to be in a Bedford Avenue building owned by the Hill House. It was aimed at serving dropouts in grades 9-12 through a blended program of in-person classes half of the day and online instruction on laptops the rest of the day.

In an interview before the vote, Phil Parr, president of the charter school board, said the school planned to open for the second semester of the 2013-14 school year, if that could be negotiated, or else in fall 2014.

Board member Regina Holley said she was disappointed that the district missed an opportunity. She would have liked the district to have partnered with the organization to have centers throughout the district.

A charter school is a public school operated by its own board but chartered by a school district. Students do not pay tuition, but the home district pays a fee set by the state. If oversubscribed, admission is by lottery, with residents of the host school district getting preference.

For each resident who attends a charter school, the state requires the Pittsburgh district to pay the school $12,871 for a non-special education student and $27,923 for a special education student.

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Education writer Eleanor Chute: echute@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1955.


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