PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – On the day the School District of Philadelphia adopts a bare-bones budget (see related story), school officials also welcomed a big gift from the utility company Peco to promote science learning in West Philadelphia.

Peco is giving $1 million over five years to boost the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (“STEM”) program in the Mantua and Powelton Village communities.  Drexel University will provide the academics.

Drexel president John Fry (in center of photo) says job one will be an upgrade of the library in the Powel Elementary School.

“As you see, this is a pretty antiquated space,” he said today.  “And in order to make it STEM-ready, there’s a lot that we need to do with technology.”

Drexel will also develop a summer science program for middle school students and help the Mantua community plan for more science learning.

Philadelphia city councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, who attended the gift announcement at Powel, says City Council is no closer to finding the $75 million to $110 million the school district seeks from the city to close its budget gap (see related story).

“The whole issue of raising taxes 17 percent is a frightening one that most councilmembers don’t support,” she said.

Blackwell says that with Council’s summer recess beginning after June 16th, the time to take action is getting short.

Reported by Mike DeNardo, KYW Newsradio 1060

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