Corbett unveils plan to rescue Philly schools
ABOVE PHOTO: Students rally against proposed reductions in state funding for schools, Wednesday, May 25, 2011, outside City Hall in Philadelphia.
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Gov. Tom Corbett said he has completed negotiations with state lawmakers on a rescue package for Philadelphia public schools as the district tries to reverse a $304 million deficit and avoid laying off 20 percent of its workforce and eliminating programs from art to athletics, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Sunday.
In an online report from the Inquirer, Corbett said portions of the aid package will have strings attached, including contract concessions from unionized employees in the state’s largest school district.
He also said that an earlier proposal from city and school officials to allow a cigarette tax increase in Philadelphia worth $45 million a year lacked support in the Republican-controlled Legislature.
Instead, the Philadelphia schools will be given the power by the state to collect taxes more aggressively, changes that are worth an estimated $30 million a year, the Inquirer reported.
The district will also get $45 million in one-time cash from a now-forgiven debt that Pennsylvania owed to the federal government. In the proposed state budget for the fiscal year beginning Monday, the schools will get nearly $16 million extra in aid, according to information from the state Senate. The Senate had released information Saturday saying the district would get $14 million.
The city also will be able to borrow $50 million from future sales tax revenue that goes to it.
Originally, school officials had sought about $130 million in unionized employee concessions, $120 million in additional state aid and $60 million from increased taxes on cigarettes and alcoholic drinks. However, City Council opposed the drinks tax increase.
After Republicans who control state government suggested that the district might not get the help it sought, a group of Philadelphia parents and school employees began a hunger strike in mid-June in an effort to press for additional money.
The school district has already sent layoff notices to 20 percent of its district employees, leaving little more than teachers and principals in schools, as a result of both a $304 million deficit in the district’s operating budget and more than $134 million in federal grant reductions. Without financial help, Philadelphia school officials also say they need to eliminate all art, music and athletics programs.
+ Top Story
With the holiday season in full swing, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), joined by a local worker and advocates, will call for an increase in the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour for over 700,000 Pennsylvania workers.
Wayne County, Mich., prosecutor Kym Worthy has charged Theodore Paul Wafer with second-degree murder in the death of Renisha McBride, a 19 year-old Detroit woman, who sought help following an automobile accident in Dearborn Heights, Mich.
Alabama’s parole board approved of granting posthumous pardons in the infamous “Scottsboro Boys” rape case on Thursday morning. The board made the decision during a hearing in Montgomery for three black men whose convictions were never overturned in a case that came to symbolize racial injustice...
Cleveland Cox, 49, and Lisa Cox, 52, are charged with nonsupport of dependents. Authorities allege the Middletown couple left boy with children’s services after saying he was displaying aggressive behavior and earlier threatened the family with a knife. Trial is scheduled for Feb. 10.
Another milestone is passing in America’s racial journey: The next mayor of New York City is a white man with a black wife. Even in a nation with a biracial president, where interracial marriage is more accepted and common than ever, Bill de Blasio’s marriage to Chirlane McCray is remarkable...
Common Pleas Judge Lawrence O’Toole has appointed former retired U.S. District Bankruptcy Judge Judith K. Fitzgerald to manage the financially troubled August Wilson Center for African American Culture. As conservator, Fitzgerald will oversee the center’s operation and...
The NAACP announced the members of its search committee for the Association’s new president and CEO last week. The members are a distinguished group of leaders from a variety of fields. The committee includes both members of the national board and key stakeholders.
Typhoon-ravaged Philippine islands faced a daunting relief effort that had barely begun Monday, as bloated bodies lay uncollected and uncounted in the streets and survivors pleaded for food, water and medicine.