Gov. Corbett today announced that he is releasing a one-time $45 million grant for the Philadelphia School District that was contingent on his administration certifying that reform efforts were underway at the district.
The money, which became available when the federal government agreed to relieve the state for part of an unrelated debt, was earmarked for Philly schools as part of last summer's budget deal - but under one condition: The state secretary of education had to certify that the district was making operational and fiscal reforms.
Over the summer, Philadelphia Democrats pressured Corbett, a Republican, to release the money immediately, arguing in part that the district had already made severe cuts. State Budget Secretary Charles Zogby responded with a statement saying the grant would not be released without a collective-bargaining agreement with significant concessions from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.
There's still no agreement with the PFT, but the School Reform Commission and Superintendent William Hite have begun to unilaterally change some work rules.
Hite sent Corbett a letter yesterday, urging the release of the $45 million. He welcomed today's announcement as a rare moment of "good news" for the district.
The $45 million will allow the district to rehire about 400 employees this year. But it's a onetime grant, meaning that money will not be available next year.
Hite is still seeking more than $100 million from the PFT, and teachers have been working without a contract for a month.