Philly Council passes school funding but promises hearings on how money to be spent

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Philadelphia City Council has approved a budget with more money for the city schools.  But not all of it is guaranteed until the school district provides a few answers to council members. Council President Darrell Clarke says with the $50 million tax hike comes a bill to transfer the city portion, about $25 million of it to the school district.  Clarke says he wants district officials to clarify how the new money will be put to work.

“During the course of the hearings there were a number of issues that were not responded to with respects to the intent of new funding which were for enhancements to the school district and we didn’t get reasonable responses from the school district,” he said.

Clarke says part of the issue is the district’s talk about contracting out some postions such as substitute teachers and school nurses.

“It’s clear that we may have to sit down, there may have to be a reorganization strategy with respect to how the school district operates.Clearly with the state at the table because they are the most significant contributor of resources.”

A hearing is expected after council returns from its summer recess.

This evening the School Reform Commission is slated to vote on a contract to hire an outside firm to supply substitute teachers.  This can be a flashpoint with the union, because many current subs are members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.  Teachers brought in by an outside firm would not be union members.  The district has said it’s seeking help because it routinely is unable to fill in for sick teachers, forcing colleagues to miss preparation periods or school administrators to jump back into the classroom.

The Philadelphia School District also requested proposals from outside entities to provide medical care, but it’s unclear how many applied or what kind of services they would offer.

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