New Schools and Replications

How does the District decide to open new schools?

The District actively seeks opportunities to provide innovative and high quality learning opportunities for students, as part of our Action Plan goal of increasing access to great schools close to where every child lives. The District’s Office of New Schools Models (ONSM) leads the District’s efforts to identify and launch new schools.

When deciding to open a new school, the District considers many factors, including community needs and desires, available facilities, impact on enrollment of nearby schools, quality of nearby schools, finances, and more.

What new schools have opened recently?

Vaux Big Picture High School: Beginning in the Fall of 2017, the District launched Vaux High School in collaboration with Big Picture Philadelphia.  Vaux Big Picture High School will utilize “learning through internships” and “project-based learning” to offer a unique educational experience. Big Picture Learning ( is a nationally recognized educational design that yields outstanding student outcomes and success. Focusing on a student-centered approach, Big Picture Learning meets students where they are and brings them to where they dream to land.

Science Leadership Academy Middle School: In the Fall of 2016, The District opened the Science Leadership Academy Middle School (SLA-MS).  The middle school is built on the notion that inquiry is the very first step in the process of learning. Developed in partnership with Drexel University and its commitment to inquiry-based science, SLA-MS provides a vigorous, college-preparatory curriculum with a focus on science, technology, mathematics and entrepreneurship.

Building 21, The LINC, and The U School: In the Fall of 2014, the District opened three new innovative high schools – Building 21, The LINC, and The U School.  Each school was designed with modern, technology-rich classrooms and real-world curricula.

At Building 21, each student’s strengths, interests, and passions shape a personalized learning pathway that toward college and career.  Learning takes place in and among the community through career-connected studios, mentoring, internships, and more.

The LINC is focused on project and problem-based learning to better prepare students for post-secondary schooling and the work force. Through a non-traditional instructional approach, LINC students work in teams made up of their peers, faculty members, and community partners to create and implement design challenges that address pressing issues in the community, the city of Philadelphia, and the greater society.

The U School’s instructional model includes a personalized learning approach in which every learner is supported in developing a personalized learning plan (PLP) and designing their learning pathway so that it reflects learner interests, needs, and aspirations.  The school also features youth advisory and mentoring teams for all students (called Posses); a competency-based approach to mastery and advancement; and design-based learning in which learners lead personal and team-based investigations around the “Great Challenges of Our Time.”

Science Leadership Academy @ Beeber and The Workshop School: Other recent new schools include Science Leadership Academy @ Beeber (SLA@Beeber) and The Workshop School, both of which opened in the Fall of 2013.  The Workshop School unleashes the creative and intellectual potential of young people to solve the world’s toughest problems.  The school places real-world problems at the center of the curriculum, and evaluates students’ work based on the progress they make in defining, exploring, and ultimately developing solutions to those problems.  SLA@Beeber is the second campus of Science Leadership Academy, an inquiry-driven, project-based high school focused on 21st century learning.  SLA @ Beeber provides a rigorous, college-preparatory curriculum with a focus on science, technology, mathematics and entrepreneurship. Students learn in a project-based environment where the core values of inquiry, research, collaboration, presentation and reflection are emphasized in all classes.

What new schools are planned for the future?

At this time, there are no new schools currently slated to launch.  The District will continue to assess needs and opportunities for new schools that may launch in the future.

How can I be a part of the process to open a new school?

The District periodically releases a call for proposals for new school models through our procurement office. Organizations, groups, and individuals with great ideas and strong track records may apply to launch a new model in partnership with the District.  Stay tuned for the next call for proposals!