City Leaders Seek Alternative Solutions to Close School District’s Deficit
There is no single solution to close the school district’s deficit– that’s the reason why the School Reform Commission was first created. But before the shit-show at City Hall begins today– where the people of Philadelphia will debate whether the City should give $75 million to $100 million dollars of money it doesn’t have to help plug the school district’s gaping deficit of $631 million–city leaders are already speaking about different approaches than a city-handout.
The Philadelphia of Federation Teacher’s Union President Jerry Jordans, who represents 16,500 members (the city’s largest union), wants the Governor and Legislature to “use the $500 million-plus state budget surplus, which is available now, to offset devastating cuts in public and higher education; use your influence to urge state Legislators to defer Governor’s proposed $320 million in corporate tax breaks, [and] increase the city’s share of funding to the public school system, directly or indirectly, but with strings attached on how additional city money may be used.”
Parents United for Public Education member and education activist Helen Gym dug into the school district’s budget and found that “the District has unfairly put up essential services rather than set priorities…We are advocating that Council give more money for targeted allocations, BUT we also ask Council to demand changes in the District’s proposed budget. The District plans to spend $23 million on an 18-day summer school program, nearly the same amount it would cost to cover full-day kindergarten…there are at least nine individuals at the District that earn as much as or more than the Mayor…How is this justified?
It’s Our Money’s Doron Taussig wants to see the city ”have more say over how the schools spend that money – especially if the city’s contribution is on par with the state’s.”
And, of course, Council Member Bill Green suggests the school district can just suck it if its leaders think its going to squeeze a dime out of him, largely because the city is already expected to provide the school district $815 million for next year.
More than 60 people are already signed up to testify today at 1 p.m. in City Hall.