By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Council President Darrell Clarke is pitching what he thinks is a super idea, getting local universities to offer more support to cash-starved public schools. Clarke, in fact, has named the program “SUPER.”

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Council President Clarke says local universities have a done great job supporting public schools that are adjacent to the colleges. But he says that’s unfair to public schools that don’t have a University in their community.

“So we will be working on this process called ‘SUPER.'”

SUPER is Clarke’s acronym for a still-unformed program called School University Partnership for Educational Resources. He says because the universities are non-profits, and thus don’t contribute to real estate tax, they should do more on a voluntary basis to support the cash-stared School District.

“My preference is to actually have them commit the resources, be it in personnel support or in real hard dollars, or in other initiatives.”

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Clarke admits that is legally difficult to mandate these resources through changes to the tax code, so he’s hoping for a formal agreement between the Universities, the School District and the city.

“My preference is to form a relationship with the Universities in particular. Because I think that the resources as a result of their cooperation in this program would be much more lucrative than simply imposing a small tax on (their) real estate.”

The issue of how non-profits help the school district surfaced two years ago in City Council, during the debate over the real estate tax assessment system, and the simultaneous School District funding crisis. Clarke says the real answer for the latter is dedicated state funding for the schools, but he believes his SUPER proposal could be a short-term remedy.

“We need to look at the things that we can do now.”

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Clarke, though, was vague on specifics of his idea, and its unclear how and when Council will formally debate its merits.