Philadelphia School Budget
It was a bittersweet melody at Philadelphia School District headquarters as instrumental music teachers played a farewell concert. They are all being laid off due to budget cuts.
Friday is the last day of school for Philadelphia public school students, and it’s also the final day ever for 24 school buildings in Philadelphia that are closing for good.
“We have done our part, exceeding the request,” Council president Darrell Clarke said Tuesday in City Council chambers, “and we will conclude our budget process this Thursday.”
The vote was unanimous for the new cigarette tax, which would take effect next January and bring an estimated $45 million to city schools. State approval is required.
In a letter to staff, schools superintendent William Hite describes the cut positions as “essential” even though at the moment there’s no extra money from the city or state, which are putting their budgets together over the next month.
The mayor and superintendent William Hite rallied outside the statehouse before heading inside to lobby individual legislators, seeking $120 million in extra state money and legislative approval for the city to raise its liquor and cigarette taxes.
Hamels, whose foundation is providing $50,000 for special programs in Philadelphia public schools, says it’s all about making a difference.
Thursday night’s passage of a so-called “doomsday” budget for Philadelphia schools isn’t likely to shake loose more money from the Republican-controlled state legislature in Harrisburg.
But whether the new tax ever gets final approval remains unclear.
Charter operators and district officials gathered at Boys’ Latin Charter School, in West Philadelphia, to join in the push for city and state money to fill the district’s $304-million budget gap.
“If and until those bills are introduced on the state level, and we see some sense that there is some action, there’s really not a lot that we can do locally,” City Council president Darrell Clarke says.
More than 1,000 students walked out of class at noontime and converged at school headquarters, then marched to City Hall.
Superintendent William Hite’s budget relies on labor concessions — including teacher pay cuts from 5 to 13 percent, and an end to teacher seniority.
Mayor Nutter says he’ll present a package of proposals in a week or so to raise $60 million for city schools.
Council hasn’t decided whether or how it can give the school district $60 million more, but dozens from the public urged Council to find a way.