Parents United for Public Education praises the work of public education advocates, parents, teachers, students, members of the Philadelphia delegation, Mayor Michael Nutter, and countless Philadelphians who called, wrote letters, made legislative visits, and even sat in at the state capitol to win the passage of HB 1177. This was a unified victory for Philadelphia schools.
While we acknowledge this work, we have serious concerns about amendments which may have been inserted into HB 1177, the language of which has never been reviewed by the public. Despite the passage of HB 1177, Pennsylvania’s children were still shortchanged in the FY 15 budget. The state failed to enact a fair funding formula, and school districts across the state will be forced to raise taxes to make up for Pennsylvania’s refusal to fund schools responsibly. Philadelphia is no exception. Even with the funds raised by the cigarette tax, the School District of Philadelphia is still $45 million short of last year’s inadequate status quo. This is unacceptable.
We call upon the Mayor and City Council to formally reconvene this summer to address this gap and to restore essential staff, primarily guidance counselors, nurses, and teachers. We will not endure another year like last year. The City must seriously explore a revenue shift to the schools as well as call upon the Philadelphia Parking Authority to devote revenues from the pending sale of taxi cab licenses to the schools. While high praise is due to the hard work of a host of advocates for Philadelphia schools, our work is not yet done.