By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia City Council wants the city’s voters to weigh in on whether Harrisburg should give up control of the school district.
Council today approved that ballot question, but it was not immediately clear if the mayor will sign it in time for it to appear on the November ballot.
This morning, speaker after speaker urged councilmembers to support the ballot question on whether the Philadelphia School Reform Commission should be abolished.
“If we want different results, then we can’t do the same things we’ve done,” noted the bill’s sponsor, Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell.
Council approved the ballot question by a 15-1 vote.
But the passage may have come too late for the November ballot.
According to Council staffers, only if the mayor signs the bill in the next two days will it appear on the ballot, due to restrictions in state law.
A spokesman for the mayor says only that Nutter is giving the measure “appropriate consideration.”
Even if Blackwell’s referendum does go to voters, it would not have had the force of law; only the state can determine who controls the school board.
Blackwell last week had delayed the vote on the ballot question after other councilmembers expressed fear that the demand for local control would only upset state lawmakers, who still must approve a much-needed city cigarette tax to fund the schools.
She said she went ahead with it now because Harrisburg’s approval of the tax, in her view, appears to be certain.
The School Reform Commission, created by the Pennsylvania legislature in 2001, is made up of five members, three appointed by the governor and two by the mayor.