As Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter plans to announce a 9 percent hike on property taxes to help raise $100 million for city schools, mayoral candidate and state Sen. Anthony Williams has come out with his own school-funding plan.
At a press conference at his campaign headquarters in Center City, his mother and first-grade teacher by his side, Williams outlined a plan he says will bring $200 million to the district next year.
Rather than raising the tax rate as Nutter is proposing, Williams said he would support a bill in City Council to increase the share of property taxes allocated to education from 55 to 60 percent, which would raise $50 million in new revenue.
Next, Williams would push the state Legislature to reinstate reimbursement for charter school expenses, money the district lost under Gov. Tom Corbett.
“I’m calling for $100 million to end the tension between districts and charters,” Williams said.
And, finally, Williams wants the nonprofit Philadelphia School Partnership to donate $50 million — half to offset the cost of new charters and the other half for traditional public schools.
A spokeswoman for PSP said the organization has had conversations with Williams about his ideas, but would not commit to that funding at this point and will not stray from its mission to fund the expansion of high-quality schools in Philadelphia. (A political action committee related to PSP has donated $7,000 to Williams’ mayoral campaign.)
Williams said, as mayor, he would have the relationships necessary to pull off this plan.
“Frankly, those who are seeking politicians to be school superintendents are misplaced in this dialogue,” he said. “Mayors should raise money. Mayors should have relationships that provide support and can get that money for public education, and mayors should put in place people who know what they’re doing to provide a quality experience of education across all neighborhoods.”
One of Williams’ challengers, former Councilman Jim Kenney, was quick to criticize the plan as falling short of what traditional public schools need.
“Once again, Tony Williams’ education proposals are more concerned with appeasing the pro-voucher, Main Line billionaires who fund his campaign than with helping our public school students and teachers,” Kenney said in a statement.
NewsWorks/WHYY education reporter Kevin McCorry contributed reporting.