Schools must find savings - fast

My colleague Martha Woodall wrote today that charter school costs will be $25 million more than the Philadelphia School District had budgeted for. The district will spend about $700 million on the 67,315 Philadelphia students enrolled in charters this school year.

The reasons? It's mostly because charter schools have enrolled about 1,600 more students than their caps say they ought to have.

The district pays charters $8,596 per student, or $22,242 for students who receive special-education services.

The big question is: how will Philly pay this bigger-than-anticipated bill? The answer: the district will have to look for savings elsewhere, and relatively quickly. That's a major question mark for a district already cut to the bone, with many schools lacking full-time counselors, nurses and other essentials. Spokesman Fernando Gallard said the School Reform Commission will be presented with an amended 2013-14 budget at its next meeting, scheduled for Feb. 20.

To be clear: that's savings that needs to be found between now and the end of the school year. That's not even touching next year's budget, which figures to be tough given the non-recurring revenues that were used to piece together this year's spending plan.

So, stay tuned.

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