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SRC adopts budget that is still banking on more money

By Paul Socolar on Jun 30, 2014 06:21 PM

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.

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Comments (10)

Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on June 30, 2014 5:47 pm
Just heard that one of the savings proposed is increasing the walking distance for a free trans-passes for Renaissance Charter students to 1.5 miles from 1 mile. This is in line of what district students already do. Say-What??? I always knew the Apartheid school system meant fewer resources, less discipline and a general abandonment of students in Neighborhood schools by the SRC overlords. But I never realized that the SRC made my students walk a half mile more to school everyday. They must really not give a darn about them. The SRC must really think my students deserve substandard treatment compared to their favored Charter students. Now in a real school system the parents would be outraged by this boldfaced discriminatory treatment but the SRC gets away with this because they know the parents of my students just do not care very much about them. Sad. I am sure if you asked Gallard about this blatant discrimination he would characterize it as an anti-obesity program.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2014 8:19 pm
Well said!
Submitted by Another Philadelphian (not verified) on June 30, 2014 9:10 pm
Charter and District students have to live 1.5 miles away for transportation. That said, the expansion of magnets under Vallas and charters over the past 12 years has expanded transit costs exponentially. Look at how many yellow buses are needed to transport K-6 who go to charters. The District also has to pay for transport for students going to private / parochial schools. So, so called school "choice" is another factor putting the District into a financial hole. Charters and private schools do NOT pay for transportation - this is above the per pupil funding for charters. Was there any change in the Charter double dipping on pensions? Charters costing Philadelphia alone $100 million in special ed spending that they do not spend on special ed?
Submitted by Go-Eagles (not verified) on June 30, 2014 9:12 pm
Busing to private/parochial schools is just another canard. You have to bus kids anyways and I'm familiar with the 10 mile radius as established by the state. There are plenty of parochial school kids that pass up a public school to get to their parochial school and vice-versa. In other words, it works BOTH ways. Quite frankly, at the end of the day, it's more cost effective to bus parochial/private school students than to have to pay for them to attend public school. If there were no private or parochial schools in Philly, SDP would collapse with a financial heart attack in a New York minute.
Submitted by Ken (not verified) on June 30, 2014 9:53 pm
Nope.....going to call you on your last sentence. If no private/parochial schools then we would have a greater percentage of families who actually care about the public schools and would invest time and energy to ensure our public schools are fairly funded.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 1, 2014 12:46 am
I am wondering where you get your information on special education spending. Stop blaming the mismanagement of school district money on charter schools. Same students same services. There is a deeper issue and that is the mismanagement of funds by this horrible school district. Things were in shambles before charter schools. You hear it all the time from older teachers. This has been coming for more than 20 years.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 1, 2014 12:21 am
Why do people keep lumping all charters together. Renaissance schools are given to a select few providers. These providers get millions in SIG funding, reduced building costs and leniency for special education mandates. Don't forget about the ability to segregate large numbers of disciplinary problems in behavioral holding programs. Independent charter schools are being starved in the same manner as neighborhood schools. Lumping all charters together allows the select few to continue to grow uncontrollably and push the original BCG plan.
Submitted by Ken (not verified) on June 30, 2014 9:20 pm
If no private/parochial schools....our public schools would be less segregated
Submitted by Lisa Haver on June 30, 2014 10:40 pm
In his remarks at the SRC meeting, Chairman Green castigated the Philadelphia delegation in Harrisburg for "putting the pensions of state employees ahead of our children". Apparently, that is the only choice. Did Green call on the Governor to expand Medicaid? Did he tell him to tax the frackers? No. Green spent the past weeks blaming City Council for not coming up with more ways to tax Philadelphians, even telling one Councilperson in a public meeting that he didn’t care about funding schools. There has not been one action taken by Green which has not served the political interests of the Governor, from holding City Council responsible for funding schools to bashing teachers and their union. What has Mr. Green put ahead of our children? Governor Corbett's reelection. Has Green taken any political risks in this whole process? No. He has not called on the Governor to restore the funding cuts. He did not call on him to restore the fair funding formula. Now he pretends to believe what we all know is a sham: that the Governor and the General Assembly would fund schools if only the Philadelphia Democrats would cave on pension “reform”—knowing full well that this was a last minute ploy to put the blame on someone else. There were never going to be enough votes to pass pension reform, no matter what. Green and the SRC should be ashamed of themselves. They played it safe and protected the Mayor and the Governor. They protected the politicians who appointed them, and they abandoned the children. Did one member of the SRC stand up in public and demand that the Governor restore school funding? Did one member of the SRC refuse to pass a meaningless budget based on non-existent funding? Mr. Green told us in May that what the SRC was being asked to do was “immoral”. What is immoral is his selling out the children of Philadelphia to advance the political interests of the Governor.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2014 11:57 pm
I thought that only students w IEP's were bussed by SDP? And to Poogie's point: Don't ever say that parents of your students don't care about them. This type of thought is why parents are so disenfranchised. But there is a lot of red tape to fight things politically and, unfortunately, in a city w 28% poverty and many working poor! parents simply don't have the time to cut through all that tape. Sadly, I think PA sees Philly schools as a liability now, and is not willing to pour money into a broken system - but also not willing to be part of a solution.

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