City reaction mixed to Philly school funding request

 City Council President Darrell Clarke (Emma Lee/NewsWorks Photo, file)

City Council President Darrell Clarke (Emma Lee/NewsWorks Photo, file)

Philadelphia School District Superintendent William Hite is asking for an additional $300 million each year to provide just the very basics to students.

That request has many City Council members asking what they will get for their money.

Council President Darrell Clarke, who said he was told by Hite of the request for $310 million to $320 million, said the schools superintendent did not specify how much he is seeking from the city and how much from the state.

Hite’s ambitious plan for the city’s schools also assumes the district will continue to receive $120 million annually from the city through continuation of a 1-percent sales tax.

But Clarke said Thursday he is not willing to give the schools 100 percent of the proceeds from extending that surcharge.

“We consistently said that any distribution of sales tax should be balanced. We have a proposal that makes all the sense in the world to all of us that supports pensions and supports schools,” he said. “We would also like to see some additional fiscal oversight.”

Mayor Michael Nutter is asking the state to approve a new split in the sales tax and creation of a city cigarette tax to help Philadelphia pay for its schools. A continual uproar over school funding cannot continue, Nutter said.

“The result this year has not been what any of us want for our schoolchildren,” he said. “The district is not funded at the level where we can achieve educational excellence that our students and parents want and, more importantly, deserve.”

Other City Council members are taking a “wait and see” attitude until they get more details from Hite on his plans.

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