A coalition of community groups that includes the city’s teachers union is calling for a temporary halt to the Philadelphia School District’s plans to close 37 schools. District officials say they welcome the group’s input, but that it’s too late to stop the closures.
Members of the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools say that closing schools is not the best way to address the school district’s dire financial straits.
“If we restored the 2008 funding formula, we would not be in this deficit,” said Andi Perez, head of Students United for Change and part of PCAPS. “If we closed tax loopholes. If we collected more property taxes. There’s series of things that the city and state could do to increase revenue for Philadelphia public schools, and for public schools around the state.”
PCAPS members believe that the district’s budget woes are the result of a deliberate campaign by Governor Tom Corbett to shrink traditional public school districts and expand charter schools. The coalition’s new report calls for a temporary halt to school closures, and proposes a host of revenue boosting strategies.
District officials agree that more revenue is needed and plan meet with the coalition soon. But District spokesman Fernando Gallard also says the financial crisis is absolutely real, and said closing dozens of schools is the District’s only option.