Deal reached on $50m for city schools

Mayor Nutter and Council President Darrell Clarke today announced the mayor has signed a bill transferring $50 million to the Philadelphia School District.

The district keeps ownership of its school buildings, but will work with the Philadelphia Industrical Development Corporation to sell them. The buildings will go up for sale next week.

The deal, announced today, ends a stalemate between Nutter and Clarke over how to get the district the extra $50 million it needed to open schools on time. Nutter had wanted to borrow the money against future sales tax collections.

To keep the district from running out of cash, the city has also agreed to advance the school system $60 million it typically provides later in the school year.

After a summer of warring press conferences from the two city leaders, today's announcement struck a different note. The mayor thanked Clarke for "his presence" and their "conversations" over the past weeks.

Clarke said he was surprised at the level of interest in the shuttered schools, which include the former University City, William Penn and Germantown high schools.

Clarke said the conversation has been going on too long.  The council president said it was "time to put a period at the end of the sentence."  He also said it was time to think about a long-term solution for funding schools.

Earlier, The Inquirer reported that one bidder had stepped forward with an offer of $100 million for the dozens of school buildings. The district had balked at the offer, saying it circumvented its policy on building sales and would have shut out the public.

Now, Clarke said, two more bidders have come forward with interest in purchasing all the school buildings.

Any sales would follow the School Reform Commission's policy.

--Troy Graham and Kristen Graham