SRC cancels meeting while funding in limbo

SRC Chairman Pedro Ramos speaks at Thursday's raucous public meeting on school closings while general counsel Michael Davis, and Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. (right) listen.

With the amount of state funds for Philadelphia’s public schools still in limbo, the School Reform Commission canceled its Tuesday evening meeting.

District spokesman Fernando Gallard said Monday that the SRC might reschedule for later this month if lawmakers return to Harrisburg to wrap up a few unresolved financial issues.

As of now, the next SRC meeting is set for Aug. 22.

A $45 million, one-time state grant for city schools was included in the fiscal code that failed to clear the legislature Wednesday as the House and Senate fought over an unrelated proposal to allow payday lending.

Right before the House adjourned for the summer Monday, language was added to the fiscal code that would legalize payday lending, the controversial practice of providing short-term, high-interest loans to people who have no credit or the ability to obtain traditional bank loans.

The Senate Rules Committee removed the payday lending provision from the code, which means the entire fiscal code must go back to the House for approval or to a joint conference committee.

The House is not scheduled to reconvene until Sept. 23, although reports circulated Monday that members might return to Harrisburg next week to deal with the stalled code. A spokesman for House Republicans did not respond to requests for comment.

Gov. Corbett and State Budget Secretary Charles Zogby have urged the Legislature to act, saying leaving the bill to languish would reduce available state funding by $235 million, and could cause cuts in higher education and hamper the state’s ability to aid Philadelphia’s schools.

The $45 million grant was the central pillar of a $140 million package of city and state funds Corbett outlined last week to help the School District address a $304 million shortfall that has led to the layoffs of 3,859 employees.