New School Model

Visiting a Catholic grade school in Philadelphia on Jan. 18, Pennsylvania’s Gov. Tom Corbett lauded a new educational model for Catholic schools in the city. Independence Mission Schools is a management organization for 16 independent Catholic elementary schools located in mostly poor city neighborhoods. The organization was founded two years ago when St. Martin de Porres parish school was struggling to serve the children of its gritty North Philadelphia community. Removing management of the school from the parish, the group brought together financial support from business leaders plus expertise in school governance and accountability. “Today it is financially stable with rising academic standards,” said Brian McElwee, the chief executive officer. The successful model was scaled up and expanded to include 16 schools, mostly in response to the announced closures of dozens of Catholic parish schools early last year.

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