By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The opposition was loud, as the School Reform Commission opened a series of hearings on its plan to decentralize and close dozens of schools. And one official sounded a warning for the fall.

“What this plan tells us is that if we do not act now, our problems in the coming year will only deepen.”

Chief Recovery Officer Tom Knudsen says if City Council doesn’t approve $94-million from the mayor’s Actual Value tax initiative, it’s not clear that schools will be able to open in September.

And facing a $218 million budget shortfall for next year, he says a leaner district management is imperative.

“Quite simply, if we do not take dramatic steps now to right ourselves, we will not be able to operate.”

But parent Rebecca Poyourow said the proposed decentralization and the district’s budget crisis are separate issues.

“Slow down and address these issues logically, one at a time, instead of telling us the sky will fall if we don’t accept the entire kit and kaboodle, no questions asked,” she says. “It is at best foolish and at worst devious for you to choose this moment of fiscal crisis to foist a poorly conceived and primarily ideological reorganization scheme on Philadelphia’s schools.”

Five more public hearings are planned, before the SRC budget vote at the end of this month.


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