Facing a projected $38 million funding shortfall for the 2020-21 academic year due to the economic recession resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the School District of Philadelphia is launching the Fund Our Schools advocacy plan, a call-to-action encouraging people to use their voices to advocate for public education funding.
The plan addresses the potential crisis that could lie ahead for the district. Its budget shortfall will grow to $1 billion over the next five years if state elected leaders do not prioritize funding for public education.
The Philadelphia School District, like others across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, needs state elected officials to maintain funding for education in the 2020-21 state budget and provide school districts with their allotted federal relief funds.
The Fund Our Schools advocacy plan, which is being launched in partnership with the Philadelphia Board of Education, includes a variety of actions people can take to reach out to elected officials.
Beginning last week and until the state budget is passed, the district is declaring every Thursday as Public Education Advocacy Day in Philadelphia.
On Thursdays, Philadelphians are encouraged to reach out through phone calls, emails, and social media posts to Governor Wolf and their state senator and state representative and tell them to support education and #fundourschools.
The district has prepared sample scripts, letters and social media examples calling on state elected officials to maintain 2019-20 education funding levels and to send the district all of its allotted federal relief funds.
“Whether you have a child in the School District of Philadelphia or not, you should be concerned about the negative impact a decrease in funding could have for the City of Philadelphia,” Superintendent William R. Hite, Ed.D. said. “Our primary objective is to provide each and every student with a high-quality education that ensures they graduate from high school ready for college and career. We are producing the future workforce, which directly impacts the economic growth of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
“If public education funding is cut, it makes it all the more challenging to offer our students the education they deserve,” he continued. “When our students graduate from high school, they are equipped to better stimulate Pennsylvania’s economy and break the cycle of poverty that has plagued our communities for far too long.”
Because of declines in state and local revenues nationwide due to COVID-19, significant revenue shortfalls are looming for local school districts, especially districts like Philadelphia, which receives 51% of its funding from the state. Major cuts from its primary funding source could eliminate the hard-earned financial stability the district has attained.
“The economic recession resulting from this pandemic has the potential to erase all of the progress the School District of Philadelphia has achieved after overcoming severe financial challenges in 2012,” Board of Education President Joyce Wilkerson said. “Now is the time for us all to advocate, letting our elected officials know that we need all available resources to educate the students of today and the leaders of tomorrow.”
For additional information on the Fund Our Schools advocacy plan, visit: philasd.org/fundourschools.