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City Council Approves Using $120 Million In Sales Tax To Help Philadelphia Schools

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Jan-Carabeo-web-social-pic-no-branding Jan Carabeo
Jan Carabeo joined CBS 3 and The CW Philly’s Eyewitness News team ...
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By Jan Carabeo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – On Thursday, City Council followed up on its promise: It approved using $120 million in sales tax proceeds to fund Philadelphia schools.

But the push for funding continues. The School District is facing a $216 million deficit, and the budget deadline is approaching.

Students, teachers and parents are demanding an end to deep cuts and bare-bones budgets.

Their voices can be heard in both City Council chambers and out.

“We know they are working hard; we need them to work harder!” one parent says.

On Thursday, a group from William Cramp Elementary showed Council what classes would look like if the District doesn’t get at least $216 million. Hundreds of teachers could face layoffs.

“We’re trying to show them what 37 kids in a classroom looks like,” explains Maurice Jones, a parent.

“To spend 45 minutes with a class of 37 – that’s less than one minute per student,” says art teacher Kimberly Gabin.

More cuts to resources and programs, they say, that impact the entire city.

“I’m talking about the future, 10 or 15 years down the road. If these kids don’t get the education that they need, Philadelphia is not going to exist,” Gabin says.

Inside City Council, lawmakers took the next step to helping to close that budget shortfall.

“City Council today adopted the legislation that would extend the sales tax…that would provide a minimum of $120 million to Philly schools,” says Council President Darrell Clarke.

Clarke is calling on Harrisburg to act next and pass the city’s proposed cigarette tax.

And for the second day in a row, education advocates rallied outside Gov. Corbett’s Center City offices asking for the same.

All while Philadelphia lawmakers consider another option: creating a Philly-specific lottery game, with money going towards public schools.

“It’s sad that we’re at the point in time as relates to funding education that we have to come up with these types of strategies and proposals,” Clarke says.

The lottery game would need the approval of the Pa. Lottery.

Meanwhile, Thursday’s funding decision comes on the heels of yesterday’s $27 million loan. That money will allow the District to pay its bills through the end of the month and still needs final approval, which is scheduled for next week.

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