City Council proposal would use ad $ for schools

Updated: To include additional information

City Council’s not waiting until budget time to find ways to raise money for schools.

Councilman Mark Squilla introduced a bill today that would allow for a large digital billboard on the Electric Factory at 7th and Callowhill streets and a portion of the money generated would go toward educational programming at three local schools.

“It’s a neat initiative and a neat way we could have the private sector help us,” Squilla said, adding that members of the Center City Improvement Coalition (CCIC) approached him about the idea.

Twenty percent of the revenues from the billboard would go toward the creation of the Center City North Improvement Fund as part of a community benefits agreement negotiated by spokesman Jeff Hornstein.

Hornstein said he expects the billboard will generate $2.5 million annually. The fund would have roughly $500,000 a year to dole out. Under the agreement 75 percent of the fund’s annual revenues would be divided evenly between Home & School Associations at Spring Garden, Kearny and McCall elementary schools. The remaining 25 percent would be split among civic associations.

The money would help fund programs like the recently cut Chinese language and culture program at the McCall Elementary School.

The Nutter administration said it has to review the bill and could not provide comment.

Is this Déjà vu? Squilla’s predecessor former Councilman Frank DiCicco tried to push a wall-wrap bill on the same building, but on 7th and Willow streets last year. That bill was vetoed by Nutter and the administration said the bill would violate federal laws because it would have been within 600 feet of the Vine Expressway.

Squilla’s plan will likely face opposition from Scenic Philadelphia, formerly known as SCRUB an anti-blight organization that opposes outdoor advertising.