It's the first School Reform Commission meeting for new Chairman Bill Green and Commissioner Farah Jimenez, and it should be a lively one. This week, Superintendent Bill Hite released his ambitious action plan - base pricetag, $320 million. Protesters are expected to "welcome" Green. And we'll hear a financial update, with details expected of how the district plans to pay for unexpected charter school costs incurred this fiscal year.
Earlier today, both City Council President Darrell Clarke and Mayor Nutter weighed in on Hite's action plan and his call for massive new revenue streams.
Nutter, at a news conference Thursday afternoon, said the city has done everything it can to increase funding on its end, including raising taxes and borrowing money. It’s the state’s turn now to do its part, he said.
Repeating the message he shared to business leaders at the annual Chamber of Commerce luncheon Tuesday, Nutter called on law makers in Harrisburg to pass legislation that would create a statewide student-weighted funding formula.
But while the funding formula is figured out, Nutter wants the state general assembly to pass two key bills: the authorization the city needs in order to enact a cigarette tax and to change the distribution of the city's added 1 percent sales tax. Those two, combined with city council extending the 1 percent sales tax, would send a combined $150 million to the deficit-plagued district each year, Nutter said.
Clarke praised Hite, but said that what "I don't like to see is both individuals on the commission and individuals who are elected officials try to micromanage the process. So I think it's important for us to come up with the necessary revenue so we don't have a school district by crisis on an annual basis, that we provide opportunities for Dr. Hite to implement his proposal, because I think it's a good plan."
Can the plan work? Will the money come through? "I have to be optimistic and I have to say that it has to get done for the future of the city of Philadelphia," Clarke said.
Stay tuned - I'll be livetweeting the SRC meeting, as always.
--Kristen Graham, Troy Graham and Claudia Vargas