About that $45m..$10m to charters?

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Members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers protest budget cuts earlier this month.

So how is the Philadelphia School District spending the $45 million released by the governor last month?

Some of the money is going to restore employees. District spokesman Fernando Gallard said that 80 counselors will be recalled on Monday. An unspecified number of assistant principals, secretaries, school support aides, and school operations officers will also be recalled.

Some of the money will go for school programming - things like fees for AP exams, IB programs and credit recovery.

Some of the money guarantees that the district's instrumental music program can run all school year. Some pays for a full year of sports.

And some - $10 million - is being set aside for charter schools, a hot button issue. Many groups fighting for district funds say that all of the $45 million should go directly into district-run schools, with not a penny spent on charters.

The district planned for 135,000 students this year, but only 131,000 showed up. Charter schools had to submit their enrollments counts to the district last month; those numbers are still being tallied, Gallard said, but officials believe many of the "missing" district students are now enrolled in charters.

If that's the case, "we had to set this money aside because we projected a specific number for this fiscal year," Gallard said. "If the number is higher, we're going to have to make up the difference in the budget. These are public schools serving public school students. This is our obligation - we are required to pay for these students."

In testimony to City Council, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers officials were unequivocal: setting aside money for charters was "unacceptable." (PFT staffer Hillary Linardopoulos delivered President Jerry Jordan's testimony on Jordan's behalf.)

"Charter schools have not borne the brunt of cuts to education," Linardopoulos said. "They were not asked to make changes or reforms. Therefore, all of the money should go to the city's traditional public schools to restore at least some of what our children have already lost."

What do you think?

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