One state senator is optimistic that the Philadelphia schools will not have to open this fall with just the bare essentials. A lot will depend on whether new dollars flow from Harrisburg.
State Senator Anthony Hardy Williams says he’s not sure how the money will be found for Philadelphia schools, but he knows other districts in need of funding from Harrisburg.
“There are a number of district across Pennsylvania if they don’t get additional revenue they will be either severely crippled or not be able to operate,” said Williams. “We saw that last year when they took care of Chester. My expectation is that they will as responsive to other parts of Pennsylvania to Philadelphia. As we speak there are other members who are clear that we need additional revenue, so we are working on ideas to that end.”
Without an additional $300 million, the district says it will have to open schools with just teachers and principals, leaving out art, music, libraries etc. The district is requestiong $120 from Harrisburg, $60 from the city and more than $130 million in concessions from its unions. Mayor Michael Nutter has proposed adding a $2 per pack cigarette tax and hiking the liquor-by-the-drink tax to provide extra dollars.
Williams says he feels there is an understanding in Harrisburg that Governor Corbett knows the budget passed Thursday by the School Reform Commission is not going to work.
“My expectation is that the governor and members of the legislature are clear that you do not open schools with just a teacher and a principle, but arts, athletics culture and counseling are essential to the operation of schools,” he said.
Williams says the “how” to pay for those other elements has to be worked out.