As Council approves Clarke's schools plan, Nutter considers giving up the fight

It was a battle of wills - and it's starting to look like Council President Darrell Clarke will outlast Mayor Nutter in the standoff over their competing plans to provide a desperately needed $50 million to the Philadelphia School District.

With City Council unanimously approving Clarke's bill to buy $50 million worth of empty school buildings today, the mayor is now considering going along with the plan, an administration source told the Daily News. 

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Mayor Nutter (front) and Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. listen during a symposium on Pennsylvania school funding at City Hall.

Another administration source said the mayor's staff will take another look at the buildings that Council says have interested buyers and move forward if there is substantial enough interest. 

Nutter had wanted Council to adopt a plan orchestrated by Gov. Corbett in which the city would make permanent a sales-tax increase expiring this year and borrow $50 million for the schools against its future revenue. No Council member even introduced the bill on Nutter's behalf, leaving the mayor with few options.

- He could continue to fight the Clarke bill and veto it. But there are more than enough votes for an override.

- He could ignore the bill - allowing it to become law without his signature and declining to send the $50 million check to the School District - and continue to call on Council to take up his plan. 

- Or he could raise the white flag and buy the empty school buildings. That would avoid a scenario in which the city comes up with nothing for the district after pledging last month that the $50 million would be there by the middle of the school year - an even uglier scenario for the mayor than surrending to Council.

Nutter spokesman Mark McDonald said he knows nothing about what the two sources said regarding Nutter's plan.

"The administration has been in discussion with Council members, and we look forward to continuing that discussion to fulfill the pledge, the joint pledge, of getting $50 million to the School District of Philadelphia," he said. 

McDonald added that the administration is continuing to help the School District "to sell its surplus property and get the highest price as quickly as possible."

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