Phila. Lawmakers Say Yearly School Budget News Comes Too Late
By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — City Council members today said they’re tired of being left in the dark each year about the Philadelphia school district budget woes until it’s time for the district to pass the hat.
This came up during a Council hearing on whether Harrisburg is doing enough to fund education in the state.
Councilmembers have long felt that the School District of Philadelphia keeps them in the dark each year about budget woes until the last possible minute. And that concern was voiced by several lawmakers today at the hearing.
In the hot seat was the school district’s chief financial officer, Matthew Stanski (left photo).
Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell (right photo) said delays in getting answers often make City Council look like the bad guys.
“We don’t want to be in a position where the whole city says, ‘You folks don’t want to fund education,’ when it’s not true — when we have no information, and no promise of any information,” Blackwell said.
Among those grilling Stanski on that point was Councilman Wilson Goode.
(Goode:) “How much do you intend to ask from the state to cover that gap?”
(Stanski:) “For next year?”
(Stanski:) “We have not put… finalized that number yet for next year.”
(Goode:) “So when are you going to figure that out?”
(Stanski:) “It will be the winter sometime — January, February — as we’re putting our budget together.”
(Goode:) “When are you going to tell us?”
(Stanski:) “We will, I will go back and talk to the superintendent to talk about a communication plan around when we finalize a number, when we tell –“
(Goode:) “Do you know yet how much you’re going to ask the state for, for next year, and when are you going to tell us how much you’re going to ask the state for, for next year?
(Stanski:) “We don’t know how much we’re going to ask the state for, for next year, as of yet. And I don’t know when that decision will be made, so I can’t answer your second question.”
The school district’s budget shortfall this year was more than $300 million, of which the city was asked to provide $50-60 million.