Philadelphia Education Fund’s Response to School District’s Budget Announcement

Posted by Philadelphia Education Fund on May 5, 2014

Philadelphia Education Fund’s Response to School District’s Budget Announcement

Again, we face a School District budget that should be acceptable to no one who cares about kids, education, or the future of our economy and our region. The State continues to be the biggest culprit in the District’s fiscal woes. However, we have children in schools right now, and they need us to do what we can, locally, even as we push for more money from Harrisburg.

Because last year’s (insufficient) State support relied on non-recurring funds, the District is back asking for significant money just to maintain current, woefully inadequate, service levels. We are dismayed at the prospect of another round of massive layoffs if the City does not release the $195 M the Superintendent has requested. $120 M has already been set aside via the sales tax extension. All Council has to do is approve its use for our schools. We have faith that the Mayor and Council, working together, can find the additional $75M Dr. Hite’s requests.

When we talk dollars, it’s easy to lose touch with what they mean. These numbers mean another thousand jobs — teachers, nurses, school police, maintenance staff – and with those jobs any semblance of an adequate education for most of our children.

Conversely, if City Council and the Mayor can do their part, and we can leverage additional funds from the State (for example, through refunding the Charter School Reimbursement line) the District can begin to move toward improvement, rather than cutting from bad to worse. Let’s remember we have made real improvements in the past when we’ve had more reasonable resources. From 2002 to 2010, as investment increased so did performance. The on-time graduation rate increased from 52% to 64%. Over the same years, proficiency in math and reading more than doubled (from 20% to 51% and 24% to 57%, respectively).

We know our children can succeed. But not if our schools are starved. There’s an old African saying, “when elephants fight, it is the grass that gets trampled.” In the game of school-budget “hot-potato” being played by the State and the City, I hope our elected officials are paying attention to who’s being crushed.


Darren Spielman
Philadelphia Education Fund
1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway | Suite 700 | Philadelphia, PA 19103
Phone: 215.665.1400 ext. 3313
Fax: 215.864.2494


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