By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The School District of Philadelphia is reversing a trend: after closing 30 schools in the last two years, this fall it will open three new high schools.

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In preparation, the district is encouraging eighth-graders and their parents to take a look.

The U School, the Linc, and Building 21 each will have a different focus but they will all have several things in common: they’ll be small, they’ll have non-selective admissions, and they will stress project-based learning and community partnerships over traditional subject-based classes taken in sequence.

They will be run and staffed by district employees, though they’re being funded by $3 million in grants from the Carnegie Corporation and smaller ones from Next Generation Learning Challenges and the Philadelphia School Partnership.

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An open house is scheduled next Wednesday for students and parents, to explain the enrollment process. There’s a one-page application with no academic or behavioral criteria.

Each school will admit 115 ninth-graders in September. If more apply, a lottery will be used for admission, with a preference for students from the North Philadelphia neighborhoods where the schools will be located.

After closing 30 schools in the last two years, the Philadelphia School District plans to open three new ones.

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