Friday, September 22, 2017

The Next Mayor: At Issue -- Education

Philadelphia School District educates 224,000 students with a budget of $2.5 billion. Of those students, 31 percent are in charter schools, and the rest in district schools.

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Education

It's 2015:
What do you care about?

The race for who becomes mayor is always about the issues.

The Next Mayor will be providing background and updates on news and information on the biggest issues facing the city.

We want to hear from you about what you think is critical for the next mayor to handle.

The Big Picture

It's safe to say there has never been a year where the schools have not faced a deficit. A number of factors drive this year’s $80 million deficit: state funding has declined or remained flat while fixed costs over which the district has little control—like pensions and benefits—have risen. 

In addition, the growth of charter schools adds additional impact since the district pays out of its budget for each charter student, but can't cut its costs at the same rate. These "stranded costs" are no longer reimbursed by the state.

Big Battles

Harrisburg lawmakers vs. Philadelphia Federation of Teachers: Lawmakers are pushing for more charters and more choice; PFT and others view the push for charters as part of the larger educational reform movement that is designed to weaken the ranks of union teachers and "outsource" education to private companies and vendors.

School District/SRC vs. Harrisburg: The state used to reimburse school districts for a portion of costs associated with charters. Gov. Corbett put a stop to that. Lawmakers favor charter schools, but the district says they can't afford them.

State control vs. local control: In 2001 facing staggering deficits, the District came under state control overseen by the School Reform Commission. The SRC is made up of three gubernatorial appointees and two mayoral appointees. In recent years, school advocates have become increasingly vocal about returning the schools to local control.

What's at stake

The mayor of the city has no direct control over the schools, although he or she gets two appointments on the five-member School Reform Commission. In recent years, Mayor Nutter has pummeled City Council to give the schools more money than the usual amount from the city, but it hasn't been easy….especially because state law mandates that the amount of money the city contributes to the schools can not be reduced in subsequent years.

Recent talk about abolishing the SRC and putting schools under local control is likely just that: talk. Only the SRC can dissolve itself, and local control would cut the perceived responsibility the state has for being responsible for the schools. 

Check out more education coverage at The Philadelphia Public School Notebook, one of The Next Mayor partners, and this Voter Cheat Sheet produced by PhillyCORE Leaders.

Below is the latest graphic from Pew Charitable Trusts on per-student spending in Philadelphia schools. Learn more about Pew’s research here.

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It's 2015:
What do you care about?

The race for who becomes mayor is always about the issues.

The Next Mayor will be providing background and updates on news and information on the biggest issues facing the city.

We want to hear from you about what you think is critical for the next mayor to handle.

The Issues

Below are the top issues based on a survey conducted in 2014 by the Philadelphia Daily News and Temple University.

Email us your thoughts >>

Crime
76%
Education
76%
Poverty
72%
Jobs
68%
Political Corruption
57%
Housing
52%

Poll: How important is the issue of education to you?

Not important
 
  1 (0.8%)
Somewhat important
 
  10 (7.6%)
Very Important
 
  121 (91.7%)
Total votes = 132