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The pro-charter Philadelphia School Partnership has offered the School Reform Commission $35 million to expand the number of charters in the cash-strapped district.
“The one-time gift, to be given over three years, would consist of up to $25 million for charters and a separate $10 million offer to expand strong district schools.
“It is not clear is whether the School Reform Commission will approve any new charters or accept the stunning sum, which was offered late Wednesday, and came as news to many and proved immediately polarizing.
“Applications for 39 new charter schools now await an SRC vote, which could come as early as next week. District officials have said that approving more charters would mean taking money away from traditional public schools, and no new stand-alone charters have been approved for seven years….
“Behind closed doors, Gov. Wolf has said he wants the SRC to approve zero new charters because the district can’t afford them, sources have said, adding that both sides have threatened the SRC’s existence if things do not go their way.”
Parent activists for public schools are furious at the offer.
“Lisa Haver, cofounder of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools, was aghast.
“PSP is a very influential in this school district, but it doesn’t look out for the best interests of all the students,” Haver said. “It’s shocking to see they have $35 million while schools are hanging by their fingernails to survive – schools that don’t have staff, full-time nurses and full-time librarians. And now, out of the blue, this nonprofit group says, ‘Guess what? We have $35 million.’”
“Haver, a retired district teacher, said the SRC “should reject their offer because one small group of people who are not elected officials and meet in private should not be making that decision based on how much money they have.”