By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The School Reform Commission tonight is deciding whether to approve any or all of the 39 applications for new charter schools in the city of Philadelphia.

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The issue pits charter supporters, who say there’s a public demand for more school choices, against traditional public school advocates, who contend that charter schools divert desperately needed resources from public schools.

Already, one-third of Philadelphia students attend charter schools.  The cash-strapped district has an $80-million deficit next year, and has said it can’t afford new charters.

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But Pennsylvania House speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny County) has made several recent trips to Philadelphia, urging the SRC to approve more charters. And the pro-charter group Philadelphia School Partnership has offered the district $25 million to defray the cost of new charters, but the SRC hasn’t said whether it would accept the cash.  Others have pointed out that the one-time donation would leave the school district with an additional budgeting problem down the road.


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