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Read statements to Council on District's financial needs from Hite, Green, others

By David Limm on May 5, 2014 12:53 PM

Superintendent William Hite told City Council on Monday that he is frustrated that the District finds itself in much the same fiscal crisis as last year, asking yet again for hundreds of millions in needed funding.

"This is not the conversation that we should be having in one of the largest big-city school districts nationwide. Discussing how we will make ends meet should not be our annual rite of spring," said Hite, whose prepared remarks for Council's education budget hearings were provided by the District.

Hite asked Council to approve extending the 1 percent sales tax extension and give the District at least the $120 million -- an amount that is already counted on in the District's proposed budget. Council has the authority from the state to do this, but has been balking because it wants to use some of that money to shore up the city's pension fund.

In addition, Hite is asking the city to find an additional $75 million, to help close a projected $216 million budget shortfall.

"The conditions in our schools are simply not sustainable, not from the standpoint of teacher and principal capacity, not from a student persistence perspective and certainly not from the view of families," Hite said. 

Hite was accompanied by a District principal, teacher, and student, who also testified: Cindy Farlino, principal of Meredith Elementary in Queen Village; Olivia Paris, a student at YESPhilly, an accelerated high school; and Michelle Jackson, a teacher at Martin Luther King High School, the subject of the documentary We Could Be King. It tells the story of the school's football team after a merger with arch-rival Germantown High. 

School Reform Commission Chair Bill Green also addressed his former colleagues, expressing his support for all the tough policy decisions and cost-cutting actions Hite made last year amid the fiscal crisis. He told Council that there's nothing left to cut. 

There’s no fat, or even flesh, left to cut – we’re now talking about amputations. We cannot spend funds we do not have. So if we have to take drastic action – such as increasing class sizes to 40 students or cancelling contracts – in order for schools to open, we will do so. I don’t say this to be dramatic – I say it to clarify the choices before us.

The Council's hearings on the School District's budget are taking place now and will continue throughout the afternoon and on Wednesday, with public testimony following the District's presentation. 

You can read the full written testimonies below:

Testimony of Superintendent Hite

Testimony of Bill Green

Testimony of Cindy Farlino

Testimony of Olivia Paris

Tesimony of Michelle Jackson

 

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Comments (4)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 5, 2014 3:49 pm
The only money that the SDP will actually get is from the city and the PFT. This is what the Corbett administration wants. Remember this is an election year.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 6, 2014 12:40 pm
Green is suppose to be a lawyer,yet he talks about canceling contracts like it they are agreed upon in the bathroom on toilet paper having no merit. He is so clueless and spoiled when he doesn't get his own way. That's what happens when you're born wit a silver spoon in your mouth.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 6, 2014 1:33 pm
Or he knows something that we don't...
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 5, 2014 3:53 pm
Education is important, but there are higher priorities. Necessities like continuing to mismanage the only municipal gas company in the US and paying city workers $500k retirement bonuses via DROP. Darrell Clarke is right. The city needs its sales tax revenue for its most important necessities, not luxuries like a fancy school system. Whatever the children must endure it is small compared to the tragedy facing unqualified patronage hires and PGW workers who may someday see their dreams of retiring at 48 a millionaire postponed by several years.

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