Curtis Jones: 'What are you proposing to save the schools?'


City Councilman Curtis Jones Jr., one of  the leading proponents of raising new money for the school district through either a new soda tax or property tax hike, had some strong words Wednesday for his fellow Council members.

Council appears unable or unwilling to come to a consensus on what they're willing to do for the Philadelphia School District to ease teacher layoffs and the death of music and arts, among other cuts.

Schools superintendent Arlene Ackerman has asked for $102 million to stave off rollbacks in special education, summer school, and yellow school bus service. Mayor Nutter has proposed a 2-cents-an-ounce tax on sugary drinks, or a 10 percent property tax, to provide most of that funding.

Council wants neither, but is discussing taking up to $25-$30 million from the city's fund balance. That will almost certainly translate to cuts, as they did last year when Council reduced Nutter's proposed fund balance, which is the cash reserves the city has at year's end.

"Everybody's saying 'No' to this, 'No' to that , but what you proposing to do to save the schools?" asked Jones outside of his office Wednesday afternoon, as clusters of Council members met behind closed doors to discuss how to address the school district's need

Jones said that if Council opts not to raise money, but to take money that will result in reduction of the city's resources, then members must face the responsibility of cuts that Nutter will have to make.

"Legislators have the luxury of being for reducing taxes and supporting schools, without having the burden of figuring out how to do it,"  Jones said.

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