Could U.S. Congressman Bob Brady come to rescue of Philadelphia’s schools, like he came to the rescue of the Manayunk bike race?
Sources tell WHYY/NewsWorks that Brady, as well as city and state officials, are in talks about attempting to secure federal funds to help plug the Philadelphia School District’s $304 million budget gap. The plan would require the U.S. government to waive money now owed to it by the state.
That could possibly generate tens of millions of dollars for Philly’s schools, according to sources.
Pennsylvania Sen. Anthony Williams, D-Philadelphia, said the plan is long shot.
“It’s not as simple as a secretary of a department or a congressperson coming to an agreement or an arrangement,” he said. “It requires legal standing.”
GOP Senate spokesman Erik Arneson also said the plan would not be easy to achieve.
“There’s certainly a chance,” he said. “But this is funding that, as we understand it, has been in dispute since an audit was completed in 2007. The issue itself goes back even 10 years before that.”
Stan White, Brady’s chief of staff, declined to comment on a specific plan.
“Congressman Brady has been attempting to work every avenue of getting relief to the commonwealth that would allow the governor to put more money into the Philadelphia School District,” White said.
Gov. Tom Corbett’s office did not provide comment on the plan. Neither did Mayor Michael Nutter’s office.
A state legislative source, meanwhile, said that Wednesday’s various media reports of potential deals to boost funding were highly speculative.
“There are certainly ongoing conversations at the top level that might turn into something more concrete, but people have to be patient for the process to play out,” the source said. “Inaccurate information doesn’t help anyone, especially the parents, students and teachers whose lives are on the line.”