By Diana Rocco and Mike DeNardo
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The financially strapped Philadelphia School District is asking for hundreds of millions of dollars in additional funding to survive the budget crisis.
It’s the first test for the new Chairman of the School Reform Commission.
The SRC was interrupted by shouts and jeers and boos from angry parents and educators as they laid out an aggressive agenda for the upcoming year.
“That’s what Dr. Hite and his team are trying to do ladies and gentlemen, they’re trying to save our schools,” SRC Chairman Bill Green said. “You might want to quiet down and let them talk about it.”
Many are upset over layoffs, school closures, the move to charter schools and a proposed cut in teacher benefits.
This comes after the budget deficit last year forced more than 3,800 employees and teachers out of their jobs.
“I’m sick of the politics, the game playing,” parent Phil Aiken said.
“As the SRC tries to come down on our union we lose qualified teachers,” parent Kia Hinton said.
As protestors chanted save our schools they were joined by the new Chairman, former City Councilman Bill Green at his first official SRC meeting.
“I want to save our schools that’s why I’m here. I agree completely. We may not agree on the means but we certainly agree on the end,” Green said.
Green is for the move to controversial charters. He’s called for $320 million to reform the district — money he doesn’t expect at once.
The mayor has committed to $150 million this year, still leaving the district short.
“It is now time to set the platform differently, so that we have the rules that will allow Dr. Hite and his team to be successful,” Green said.
The teachers’ union has been working without a contract since August. That will likely be the next challenge for this new Chairman.
Many are watching to see what happens next.
Retired teacher Diane Payne, hearing Green’s views were influenced by M. Night Shyamalan’s education book presented him with Diane Ravitch’s book opposing corporate-influenced school reform.
“Thank you for your testimony Miss Payne. I’ll make you a deal. I’m going to read this book — I have your address here — and I’ll send you Night’s book, and we can read it and we can meet and discuss them. Thank you.”
One student challenged Green to visit his school, Blaine Elementary, “You don’t live in the ‘hood. You don’t know how it is. Come to my school. You will see us trying to get an education and students trying to prevent that.”
Green agreed to visit, saying to the student, “Set it up.”