The Philadelphia School Reform Commission is expected to vote on school closings this week. While members of City Council may not like the plan, most believe there is nothing they can do about it.
Councilman Jim Kenney says the decision to close schools belongs to the district and the School Reform Commission and council members would have to play extreme hardball to even try to change the plan.
“Our ability to leverage the school district means we don’t authorize their taxes for next year, which is not a viable option,” he said.
Other council members feel the same, but Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell says she is not giving up on her effort to stop the recommended closing of 29 schools at the end of the academic year.
“We intend looking at the whole budget and this whole issue of school closings before we pass anything,” she said. “You can’t ask for more money and we just hear about school closing … we don’t hear about how schools are safer and children are better educated.”
City Council’s nonbinding resolution, calling for a one-year moratorium on the closings, is about all it can do, said Councilman Bill Greenlee.
“The school district and the SRC have control over this situation and, to be honest with you, I understand both sides,” he said. “If you are a parent, you don’t want your children’s school closed particularly if things are working well in that school. But there are budget problems in the school district, so I see where they are coming from.”
Blackwell says she is continuing to work with parents groups to fight the closings.