School district officials seek long-term funding for cash-strapped schools

The School District of Philadelphia District Headquarters building at 440 North Broad Street. (File photo)

During a marathon public hearing before City Council’s education committee today, representatives from the School District of Philadelphia urged the city to seek a permanent funding method from Harrisburg for city schools.

Matthew E. Stanski, Chief Financial Officer for the school district, and Dr. Lori Shorr, Chief Education Officer within the Mayor’s Office of Education, both said that the city went from receiving $110 million a year from the Commonwealth to zero.

As it stands, the school district receives 57 percent of its budget from the state and 37 percent from the city.

Stanski and Shorr sought a new funding system from the state that would meet the high demands of Philadelphia students.

“The reason we need a funding formula is so that we’re not year-to-year begging,” said Shorr.

“It is more costly to educate kids here than in (other) places. We’re not talking about lowering standards, but to get the kids where they need to be, it takes great amount of resources.”

Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, chair of the committee on education, told district officials that she wanted to understand how more money would directly impact learning. She also expressed frustration that officials would not give an exact figure as to how much they would need in the coming year, but leans on council to put the request to the Commonwealth.

“We hear you, but we don’t understand,” said Blackwell.

“We have no information and make no promise of any information.”

Councilman David Oh also raised questions as to how more state-supplied money would be spent within the district.

“There’s clearly a problem with the quality (of education) the school district is providing,” said Oh.

“What will you do to fix the quality of education so that the funding will follow? On most of these universal evaluations, Philadelphia performs very poorly. At this dismal rate of education, how will you reform that you’re providing a better education that will effectively use those dollars to benefit the children?”

Check back for more updates to this blog as the hearing progresses.