Nutter: Philly school funding still in flux

 (Nathaniel Hamilton/for NewsWorks, file)

(Nathaniel Hamilton/for NewsWorks, file)

Over the weekend, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett brokered a deal to generate $127 million more for the Philadelphia schools as part of the state budget, though state taxpayers would not shoulder much of that burden.  The money would mostly come from Philadelphia and Washington and some of it would be “one time” funding that can’t be counted in past the new school year.

However the mayor of Philadelphia says “it’s not over until it’s over” when it comes to the city schools and the Pennsylvania state budget. 

Mayor Michael Nutter says negotiations are still on-going in Harrisburg to provide much needed funding for schools in the city of Philadelphia, including a chance that lawmakers might still allow Philadelphia to impose its own $2 per pack cigarette tax.

“Everything is in a state of flux, there’s a lot of activity, very fluid in the General Assembly and sometimes you just never know hour to hour half hour to half hour five minutes to five minutes what actually might take place,” said Nutter.

The deal requires that Philadelphia schools enact reforms to improve their financial stability. Jerry Jordan of  the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers says if that means his members will be pressured for givebacks, that could be a problem.

“We find it awfully strange that the employees are being asked to fund the district at a greater level than the city and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, whose responsibility it is to fund schools,” said Jordan.

Mayor Nutter says this is a time to review the educational situation in the city.

“This is about how we educate young people how we invest in young people and how we provide the resources that they need that teachers need and administrators need and principals need to provide the highest quality education possible that is my focus.”

Jordan says he wants to take a close look at the budget before talking in depth about the current situation.

The school district issued a statement saying it appreciates the money coming from Harrisburg, and will work to provide a high quality education with the funding available.  But the statement did not address whether layoffs can be averted. The deal also does not affect plans to close two dozen schools this fall.

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