Parents United for Public Education statement on delaying the budget vote
Last night Superintendent William Hite and the School Reform Commission made a bold move and decided not to pass a devastating school budget until requested revenues are received. In doing so, they put the pressure where it belongs: on our elected officials at the city and state who are ultimately responsible for funding the education of our children.
Superintendent William Hite and SRC Chair Bill Green have our support for finally acknowledging what parents and students and staff have been saying all year – our schools are not safe without responsible funding. In the last week, people have responded with anger, marches and calls for funding following the heartbreaking death of a 7 yo at Jackson Elementary without a school nurse present. Parents United has filed 800+ complaints from 90 different schools on damages of inadequate funding, and has called for District officials to take a stand and redo the proposed FY2015 budget. Some of the city’s most respected principals have publicly testified that the budget cannot sustain safe, much less educational, environments for children. The day before the SRC meeting, the Working Families Party, the PFT, PCAPS and communities delivered 40,000 signatures to abolish the SRC. This has been a non-stop call from parents and the community: these budgets are immoral. They harm children, staff and families. We are glad the SRC and District have heeded this community call.
No longer will our children be made to pay the price for the failure of elected officials who have balked, delayed and evaded their responsibilities. Our mayor has failed to allot additional money to schools in his own budget, and City Council – which committed to $120 million for schools – must guarantee at least another $75 million more. The biggest failure comes from our governor and the state of Pennsylvania who must move immediately to restore charter school reimbursements, fix special education funding, and implement a fair funding formula. As parents we pledge to bring the full weight of our voice and anger over the current conditions within our schools to City Hall and Harrisburg.
We also call upon the Chamber of Commerce, the Philadelphia Parking Authority and our leading educational institutions to step to the plate.
- The Chamber of Commerce has vocally expressed support for our schools, but has opposed a number of funding options without providing any alternative funding solutions. We ask the business community to partner with parents to ensure finding the remaining $320 million in revenue which will begin to stabilize Philadelphia schools. We have provided the Chamber with many suggestions on how to do so.
- The Philadelphia Parking Authority will soon put up for sale 45 new taxi cab licenses expected to bring in anywhere from $18-22 million. As it stands, the PPA is the sole beneficiary of this windfall. That money should go toward helping needy Philadelphians – our schools, expanded wheelchair accessible cabs, and a relief fund for cab drivers injured or hurt on the job.
- Finally, Philadelphia leads the nation in outstanding higher education institutions, who have an opportunity to connect their future with ours by launching a start-up PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) program for Philadelphia schools. Cities like Boston demonstrate great civic leadership through their PILOT program. Philadelphia’s robust college and university community has an opportunity to prove the same.
This has been a devastating year for Philadelphia schools, marked by multiple school tragedies, violence and stripped down classrooms. Our schools are not educationally sound or safe. There is no pride in a school system like this.
Our elected officials must act and act now.