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As 20th anniversary approaches, City Charter High School is renewed for five years

As 20th anniversary approaches, City Charter High School is renewed for five years
90.5 WESA | By Sarah Schneider
Published June 22, 2022 at 9:05 PM EDT

The Pittsburgh Public Schools board on Wednesday unanimously approved renewing the charter for the downtown-based City High through June 2027.

City Charter High School was evaluated by the public school district’s team, per state law, this month and met the requirements for renewal. Charter schools in Pennsylvania receive state funding and operate independently of the municipal district. As state funding is distributed to charter schools through the home district, it has the authority to approve or deny authorization requests. If denied, the charter can appeal through the state.
Several staff members and students spoke in support of City High on Tuesday during the PPS monthly public hearing.

City High CEO and Principal Dara Ware Allen listed several unique offerings of the school such as year-round trimester model; looping, which is where teachers follow students through several years of learning; and an internship program among other offerings.

“Twenty years is a generation, and we look forward to future contributions we can continue making to the Pittsburgh and broader educational community on behalf of students and families,” Ware Allen said Tuesday.

Cliff Luft, a teacher coach at City High, has worked at the school since 2006 and spoke Tuesday to the collaborative teaching approach the school employs. Most teachers spend four years with the same students and upon graduation return to 9th grade to loop with another class.

“Our school model is admittedly intense and doesn’t work for 100% of our staff, but we do have excellent staff retention numbers. Many of our current staff members have been at the school for years and do not intend to leave anytime soon,” he said.

Jennifer Wilson has two children attending City High. She told the PPS board on Tuesday that she was glad her children were in the school during the pandemic.

“They took the needs of everyone involved into consideration. I watched many families suffer through those months. The school now operates on a 4-day week which provides the students with a much better balance between school, activities, sports, and often, work. To say that anything good came out of Covid-19 is rare, but we hope that the 4-day is here to stay,” she said.

City Charter High School is hosting a few events this summer to commemorate 20 years since its founding. It will host a symposium on “Nurturing Student Growth Through Innovation,” on July 11, and on August 3, it will hold an anniversary celebration at the Pittsburgh Playhouse.