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Group offers $35M for new Philly charter schools

There's major news afoot in the Philadelphia school landscape: Philadelphia School Partnership is offering up to $35 million over three years to clear the way for the School Reform Commission to approve new charter schools.

The money would pay for new charters for 14,000 Philadelphia students. Thirty-nine charter applications await the SRC, which could decide on them next week.

Mark Gleason, executive director of PSP, said the group is trying to "take the cost issue off the table for the district."

District officials have said that approving new charter schools would mean taking money away from existing traditional public schools.

"We are trying to make it cost-neutral for the district, so they consider the applications on their own merits," Gleason said.

What's not clear is whether the SRC will accept the money or approve any new charters, officials said.

The SRC is under tremendous pressure. House Speaker Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny) has made multiple trips to Philadelphia and publicly said he expects the commission to approve between 16 and 27 new charters.

Behind closed doors, Gov. Wolf has said he wants the SRC to approve zero new charters, sources have said.

Initially, 40 charter applications were on the table; one was withdrawn recently.