Ackerman Requests $75 to $110 million from City

Schools Superintendent Arlene Ackerman just made her formal funding request of City Council and Mayor Nutter -- $75 million to $110 million.

Ackerman said those funds would restore full-day kindergarten, transportation services and lower class sizes. The school district -- which faces a $629 million funding shortfall in the coming fiscal year -- will be forced to make major cuts without additional funds.

It's not yet clear how the city would provide those funds. One option would be to raise property taxes to increase revenue. Another would be to shift more of the current property tax revenue to the schools, which would open up a hole in the city's general fund. But no definite funding options have been discussed at today's hearing.

Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell said that she wasn't sure what Council will do. She noted that in a private meeting with Council leaders and Ackerman, Mayor Nutter said he supported the district's request, but he didn't say how he'd like to provide the revenue.

Asked if she would support a tax increase to provide the funds, Blackwell said she couldn't say.

"At this point with numbers moving all around, I don' think everyone is prpared to make that kind of decision," she said.

The city is currently projected to provide $776 million in tax funding, as well as a $39 million grant to the district for the financial year starting July 1 – about 30 percent of the district’s $2.8 billion budget. Next year’s budget is far less than the $3.2 billion budget for the current year, which means major cuts to programs and staffing are planned.

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