Last year, Dr. Alonso announced that he wanted to create 24 combined middle/high schools -- dubbed "transformation schools" -- over four years. After school board action last night, it seems, 15 of the 24 schools will be up and running within two years of that announcement.

Six of the middle/high schools opened a few weeks ago. As I report today, the board approved the creation of nine more last night:

-- Two of the six college-prep schools will be run by the College Board, the organization behind the SAT and A.P. exams.
-- Two of the college-prep schools will be single-gender. The Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women will be modeled after schools run by the New York Foundation. Bluford Drew Jemison, which already runs a Baltimore charter middle school for boys, will open a second all-boys schools. Both the single-gender schools will focus on math, science and technology.
-- A second existing Baltimore charter school, Northwood Appold Community Academy, will operate a new middle/high school, with a curriculum focused on freedom and democracy.
-- One college-prep school will partner with both the New York-based Institute for Student Achievement (to work in the high school) and the Baltimore-based Success for All Foundation (to work in the middle school). ISA has partnerships with high schools around the nation, but this will be its first middle school, which is why it recruited Success for All to help.
-- Of three new alternative schools, two will be run by the Boston-based Diploma Plus program, which operates alternative schools nationwide.
-- One alternative school will be run by One Bright Ray, which operates four alternative schools in Philadelphia.


School board member Anirban Basu said he hopes one of the new schools will be named after Benjamin Franklin. He opposed the board's vote last night to change the name of Benjamin Franklin Middle School -- which is becoming a high school -- to Masonville Cove Community Academy. The school community requested the name change, but Basu said students should be learning about one of the great figures in American history, even if Franklin was a "playboy."

In addition to approving the applications for nine new schools, the board rejected proposals for 11 more, made by organizations including Baltimore City Community College and the Baltimore Urban League. Laura Weeldreyer, the system's executive director of new initiatives, said some of the proposals weren't fully developed, but they could be recommended for approval in the future.