PUBLIC HEARINGS on 40 new charter-school applications will begin Monday, the Philadelphia School District announced yesterday.

Each applicant will go through two sets of hearings. The first round, which will take place Dec. 8-12, will allow each applicant to make a 15-minute presentation to district officials. At the end of each day, the public will have a chance to comment on any of the applications discussed that day.

During the second round, set for undetermined dates in January, the district's charter-school office will provide comments from application evaluators, give applicants a chance to answer questions about their proposal and make a final statement.

More than half of the 40 applicants operate existing charters in the city, including Mastery, KIPP, String Theory and American Paradigm.

The city's 86 charters enroll about 62,000 students - more than 30 percent of the district's total enrollment.

The city's new $2-per-pack cigarette tax, which provides funds for the district, required school officials to consider new charter proposals and allows rejected applicants to appeal to the state Charter Appeals Board. The district has not considered new charter applicants since 2008 because of financial woes.

Speakers are asked to register at 215-400-4010 and plan to arrive before 6 p.m. For a full list of applicant hearing dates, visit phila.k12.pa.us.

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