The School Reform Commission, in a special Monday evening meeting, unanimously adopted a budget for next school year without making deep cuts, even as last-minute negotiating in Harrisburg on the state budget and a cigarette tax means that funding levels for Philadelphia schools remain up in the air.
The SRC followed a path recommended by Mayor Nutter, who urged the commission to adopt a budget that "anticipates positive action from Harrisburg," and avoids cuts "so painful that they raise serious questions about whether it is safe to open schools." The District budget is balanced with a $93 million line labeled "Additional revenue or expense reduction."
The hourlong meeting began with a presentation by Chief Financial Officer Matthew Stanski, discussion of the budget by commissioners, and brief public testimony. Stanski said the shortfall in state aid in state Republicans' current budget plan would leave the District with a $93 million hole.
Moments after the conclusion of the SRC meeting, the state Senate approved that budget plan, 26-24 -- a no-new-taxes plan that includes tens of millions less for Philadelphia schools than what Gov. Corbett had originally proposed in February. A vote in the Pennsylvania House is expected later this evening. The budget passed the Senate without a single Democratic vote.
Legislative authorization of the proposed Philadelphia-only cigarette tax has not moved forward in Harrisburg and would fill only a portion of the budget hole.