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Council President Optimistic State Lawmakers Will Sign On To Schools Plan

(City Council president Darrell Clarke, during hearings on the school district's next budget.  Image from City of Phila. TV)

(City Council president Darrell Clarke, during hearings on the school district’s next budget. Image from City of Phila. TV)

Mike Dunn Mike Dunn
Mike Dunn is City Hall bureau chief for KYW Newsradio 1060. He covers...
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By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It may be a tough sell in Harrisburg, but City Council is hoping to convince state lawmakers to sign on to their revised school bailout plan.

At issue is whether $120 million in sales tax revenue should go entirely to the schools, or split in later years with the city workers pension fund. Some council members, like Curtis Jones, want the split — and Jones believes Harrisburg will agree.

“I’m a dreamer, and I’m an optimistic,” Jones says. “I have the faith that they won’t leave our children in the lurch.”

READ: ‘Compromise’ School Funding Bill Aired In Phila. City Council
READ: Philly Schools Funding Proposal Causing Widespread Consternation

Less optimistic are school advocates like Susan Gobreski of the group Education Voters PA, who says, “I worry about depending on Harrisburg. Harrisburg has not been friendly, and has not been as helpful as we need them to be.”

Council President President Clarke’s legislation does not include any fallback plan, should Harrisburg turn thumbs down on the idea. Clarke says that would be counterproductive, “This notion about fallback basically suggests defeat prior to you even moving the bill throughout the process.”

Clarke is optimistic Harrisburg will sign on to his plan.

Mayor Nutter is cautiously hopeful: “No one has said no. The conversations are ongoing. They’ve been enlightening and certainly productive.”

The spokesman for the House majority leader says only that lawmakers are having talks with the SRC, council and the mayor about the funding crisis.

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