Incoming School District CEO Arlene Ackerman comes to the Philadelphia School District determined to adopt a new system for distributing funds to schools that could significantly redirect resources to high-poverty areas and give parents, teachers, and principals more say over how money is spent.
A line item in the School District budget says $317 million will be spent on charter schools in 2008-09, 13 percent of total expenses and the single biggest outlay other than salaries and benefits.
But how much does the District really end up paying for charters? As it turns out, not nearly that much, though the question provokes hot debate.
One unofficial District estimate is that the net cost is closer to $140 million.
Why isn’t $2.3 billion enough? That’s a question often asked about Philadelphia’s schools. The sheer cost to operate them astounds people.
Governor Rendell has proposed a historic education-first budget that would deliver tens of millions more dollars to Philadelphia. But even with that, the District faces a grim future – a $50 million deficit by the end of next year and a five-year plan calling for teacher cutbacks and no raises.