Budget & Finance

Gov. Corbett Advances $265 Million to Help Philadelphia District

By Denisa R. Superville — August 06, 2014 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has committed to advancing $265 million to help the financially strapped Philadelphia school district open schools on time.

Corbett’s announcement on Wednesday comes as the legislature declined to return to Harrisburg, the state capital, to vote on legislation allowing the city to levy a $2-a-pack cigarette tax that would have provided the schools with about $80 million in a full year and stave off the possibility of massive layoffs this year.

Both houses preliminarily approved the tax in July, but the proposal became mired in amendments and other issues unrelated to Philadelphia’s schools. The legislators went on break without giving final approval to the bill.

Even with Corbett’s announcement on Wednesday, Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite did not make any promises that schools would open as planned on Sept. 8, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“It changes nothing about what we’re considering,” Hite said at a press conference in which both he and Corbett spoke, the Associated Press reported.

Among the options on the table to deal with the $81 million deficit: more than 1,000 layoffs and an abbreviated school year. In July, the district laid off 342 workers, mainly aides and special education assistants. Final decisions will be made by Aug. 15.

Hite said the district needed funds “not just to start the year, but to ensure that the people we carry on payroll are still on payroll at the end of the year,” according to the Associated Press.

The $265 million is not new money: It’s an advance on funding the district would have received during the year. The governor says that making the money available early would save the district about $5 million in borrowing expenses.

In the past, Corbett’s camp has called on the teachers’ union to make further concession to help the district.

Corbett did so again Wednesday, charging that the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers had not made enough efforts to cut pension costs, which, he said, had skyrocketed in the last decade by $66 million, or 188 percent, according to the Associated Press.

In response to the governor’s offer, PFT President Jerry Jordan said the $265 million was insufficient to provide the necessary resources for the district’s children or undo what he described as the “damage done by Governor Corbett’s cuts to public education.” He urged the legislature to reconvene to pass the cigarette tax.

The details of Philadelphia’s budget woes are well-known, but for those who were not paying attention, Mayor Michael Nutter, in calling for the passage of the cigarette tax, reviewed them Wednesday for a Senate Appropriations Committee that was conducting a hearing on the Philadelphia budget crisis.

“Let me start by stating a simple truth: Without enactment of the cigarette tax, the school district of Philadelphia does not have the necessary revenue to open schools on time, safely, and for the entire year,” according to Nutter’s prepared remarks. “That is unacceptable. It would mean Philadelphia’s children will not have their right to a quality education delivered to them—not because of anything they have done, but because of the actions—or in this instance, the inactions—of adults.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Budget & Finance Why Failing to Require Masks Could Cost Districts Millions Later
Some insurance providers are threatening to cancel districts' coverage this school year—particularly if they break statewide mask mandates.
9 min read
Image of a dial that assesses problems, dangers, risks, and liabilities.
Budget & Finance Will Teachers Get Vaccinated for $1,000?
More and more districts are offering cash to employees who get vaccinated, hoping that the money will help tamp down COVID-19 spread.
6 min read
Image of a dollar bill folded into an upward arrow.
Budget & Finance Opinion Three Tips for Spending COVID-19 Funds in Evidence-Based Ways
If COVID-19 funds targeted for evidence-based practices are going to deliver, it's crucial to be clear on what evidence is actually helpful.
3 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Budget & Finance How Kids Benefit When Principals Get a Say in Spending Federal COVID-19 Aid
In some districts, principals play a key role in targeting federal pandemic relief money, but in other places they're left out.
8 min read
Nicole Moore, the principal at Indian Mills School, stands near the summer literacy program held in a small lot at Fawn Lake Village in Shamong, New Jersey on July 6, 2021. Moore worked with teachers to develop a summer literacy program for disadvantaged students who live in the district.
Nicole Moore, principal of Indian Mills School, in Shamong, N.J., worked with a teacher and the district superintendent to start a summer program using federal aid for COVID-19 relief.
Eric Sucar for Education Week