By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — An influential group is offering some big cash, to make it easier for the Philadelphia School District to approve applications for new charter schools.

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The Philadelphia School Partnership says it doesn’t want money to stand in the way of the District approving any of the 39 new charter applications before it this month.  District officials have said approving new charters would divert money from traditional public schools.  So PSP executive director Mark Gleason says his group is putting up $35 million to cover the costs of adding up to 15,000 new charter seats over the next three years.

“We want to make sure the SRC is evaluating each charter application on the merits — is it a high-quality school, or does it have the potential to be a high-quality school or not, and not have cost concerns be the driver,” said Gleason.

Gleason says his group is not taking a position on which charters should be approved.  he says PSP will also lobby for a fair funding formula, and for restoring some state charter reimbursement to districts.

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Will the district accept the money?  District spokesman Fernando Gallard wouldn’t commit.

“We are appreciative of the offer by PSP,” said Gallard.

Gallard says the district will continue to consider the charter applications on the merits.

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