PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –– On the day after the Philadelphia School District handed out thousands of layoff notices, Mayor Michael Nutter spent Tuesday pounding the pavement in Harrisburg, trying in part to drum up more money for the financially strapped school district.
The mayor would not specify who he was meeting with, but his press secretary says the mayor believes the trip was “helpful.” Still, the administration has no expectation of whether lawmakers in the Pennsylvania capital might be willing to provide more money to help the Philadelphia schools close a $629 million budget gap.
Meanwhile, the reality of 3,000 job cuts began sinking in for parents and students across the district on Tuesday while some called for a change of leadership.
“How can we work under these conditions?” said Diane Payne, a veteran kindergarten teacher. “What business can work when you have no idea of what tomorrow is going to bring?”
She is not being laid off but sent the mayor and city council a letter placing the blame for the school district’s mess squarely in the lap of district Superintendent Arlene Ackerman and the School Reform Commission.
“There’s no collaboration in our city; there’s no teamwork; there’s no trust in our city,” she said.
“You can’t simply trust what the school district says,” said Philadelphia city controller Alan Butkovitz. “There’s an ongoing issue with transparency, and there’s frequently a lot of wishful thinking.”
As the city’s chief government watchdog, Butkovitz told Eyewitness News it may be time for the mayor to take control of the school district because its finances are a shambles. The School Reform Commission, which was created by the state and replaced the Board of Education a decade ago, does not provide sufficient oversight he says.
“I think they’re always crossing their fingers and hoping for the best,” he said. “They’re always trying to get from one crisis to the next, and they’re papering over problems.
Butkovitz would not comment on the future of Arlene Ackerman in Philadelphia.
Ackerman was unavailable for comment on Tuesday.
Reported by Ben Simmoneau, CBS 3