String Theory Charter School interested in the Abigail Vare school building in Pennsport

In a public meeting with the Pennsport Civic Association last night, String Theory Charter School revealed that they have an “agreement of interest” with the owners of the shuttered Abigail Vare school building at 1621 E. Moyamensing Ave. with the plans of opening a new public charter school.

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Angela Corosanite, Founder of String Theory Charter Schools, explained that the decision to file the charter application with the School Reform Commission (SRC) was made after talking with Pennsport Civic’s Dr. James Moylan, State Representative William Keller and Councilman Mark Squilla. “We thought Pennsport was really in need of a school,” said Corosanite.

The plans for the Pennsport school, which would have a lottery for applicants, are preliminary at this point. The SRC could vote to deny the application. Public hearings regarding the 40 new charter school applications are scheduled to begin next week and it looks like String Theory will present its plans for the Pennsport location on Mon. Dec. 8 at 2:30 p.m. under the name “String Theory Southeast”.

Although SRC’s deadline to decide is March 30, Corosanite mentioned that if the Pennsport application is accepted, the renovations to Vare would be ready by September 2015, meaning the school would be open at that time. Corosanite explained that String Theory has turned around renovations at the school’s other locations quickly, but also cautioned that the ultimate decision is out of their hands. “We may not get this charter,” said Corosanite.

If String Theory does get the charter, Corosanite said that the school would be Kindergarten through 5th grade. Class sizes would be 100 per grade and student/teacher ratio would be “25:1”.  Applications would be put into a lottery. With a large population of students and lottery applicants coming from the 19147/19148 zip codes, particularly at the Kindergarten level, made sense to put in an application in Pennsport, said Corosanite.

String Theory Charter operates four schools throughout the city: two of which are located in South Philadelphia at 2407 S. Broad St.  (grades K-1) and 2600 S. Broad St. (grades 2-4) under the name Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter School (PPACS). PPACS’ other school at 1600 Vine St. serves grades 5 through 10 and 1197 Haworth St. (grades K-8) in the former H. R. Edmunds public school in Northeast Philadelphia is called String Theory School for the Arts & Sciences.

If you’re interested in attending the public meeting and wish to make a public comment, you have to register in advance. Here’s how:

At the hearings, which will be held on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, each charter applicant will have the opportunity to make a 15-minute presentation. At the end of each day, at 3 p.m., members of the public will be given a chance to comment. People who want to comment must sign up in advance and will have three minutes each. Speakers are asked to register at 215-400-4010 and plan to arrive before 6 p.m.

The Abigail Vare school building was sold as part of a larger 5-school package for $6.8M  to Concordia Group, according to The Notebook.  Moylan, President of the Pennsport Civic Association, said that he toured the shuttered school since its closure and said it was in good shape noting “it just needed a little bit of care.”