School Reform Commission Makes Bold Move To Avoid More Cuts
By Jan Carabeo
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The ball is back in the city of Philadelphia and the state’s court.
The SRC won’t adopt a budget for next school year until it has secured adequate funding for Philadelphia schools on both the local and state level.
They say more cuts are out of the question.
As a teaching coach in the Philadelphia School District, Leshawna Coleman sees the struggles every day, struggles that are caused by a lack of funding.
“As a general rule, virtually no school has a nurse at this point.”
And for the first time, the School Reform Commission has refused to adopt a budget for next school year, even defying the city’s charter, which requires it by the end of the month.
SRC Chairman William Green says, “We are not going to approve a budget that creates empty shells and where education will not be happening.”
The district has requested $216 million just to open the doors in September. Anything less could mean hundreds of teacher layoffs and class size around 40 students.
State Senator Vincent Hughes says, “It is unconscionable.”
He says funding options are available; lawmakers just have to act starting with a tax on Marcellus Shale drilling.
“Year one we would get an extra $375 million that would come directly to the schools.”
But republicans control the process and Governor Tom Corbett has stood steadfastly against that tax.
His office today saying while anything is possible, it’s unlikely Corbett will agree.
Still, Hughes is optimistic.
“Democrats, republicans, house members, senate members in leadership, republican leadership are saying this is a direction we need to go.”
Hughes also supports Mayor Nutter’s proposed two-dollar a pack cigarette tax.
That revenue would help fund the additional $75 million requested of the city.
And Mayor Nutter issued this statement after the SRC’s decision:
‘The SRC and School District need to see what financial resources will be made available by the City Council and the General Assembly in order to approve a realistic budget to fund our children’s education. This was the only responsible action they could take.’
As for Corbett’s office, it tells CBS 3 it is also unlikely for the governor to go along with that cigarette tax.