Funds Will Allow District to Add Teachers, Counselors and Support Staff
HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 16, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- After conferring with Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq, as required by statute, Governor Tom Corbett today announced that he has directed the release of $45 million in one-time state funds to the City of Philadelphia for use by the School District of Philadelphia for the 2013-2014 school year.
Under the law, the additional $45 million in one-time state funding was to be released to the city for the school district's use when the Secretary of Education certified that the district has begun to implement fiscal, educational and operational reforms.
Based on a letter from Superintendent William Hite to Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq updating the Commonwealth on district reforms implemented since the start of the school year, Corbett cited sufficient progress had been made to warrant the certification.
"I firmly believe that all students deserve a safe, high-quality education that will prepare them for college and career," Corbett said. "I also believe that fiscal and academic reforms are necessary for the long-term survival of the School District of Philadelphia."
"Superintendent Hite and the School Reform Commission are working to build a system of public schools that has adequate resources and has the policies in place for students and teachers to thrive. The reforms they are pursuing are critical to the district's ability to better manage costs, ensuring that any new money that goes to the district gets spent on things that will improve the quality of education for students," Corbett said.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter thanked the governor for following through on his commitment to the School District of Philadelphia.
"I appreciate the Governor releasing these greatly needed funds to educate our children," Nutter stated. "Let us all dedicate ourselves to doing all that we can to ensure the best education possible for all Pennsylvania students."
In addition to new programs and initiatives designed to increase the range and quality of educational options available to students, the district has taken a student-focused approach to the staff assignment and transfer process, consistent with its priorities for educational improvement and operational control.
Most importantly with respect to fiscal stability, the district has a balanced budget and Five-Year Plan, and it is now maintaining expenditure levels that do not exceed available resources.
Corbett cautioned that the work was far from complete, however.
"Real progress at the district will not be possible without meaningful reforms, specifically to the collective bargaining agreement with the Philadelphia teachers' union," Corbett said. "It is time for the leadership of the union to step up and do their part."
"The time has also come for the leaders in the City of Philadelphia to do their part,'' Corbett said. "Council President Darrell Clarke has been a valued partner in this process to date. By acting to extend the sales tax, the Council can not only provide additional funding to aid the district in meeting its financial obligations for this school year, but put in place another key piece to the district's long-term financial sustainability."
This year, Pennsylvania taxpayers are slated to invest more than $1.3 billion into the district. Since taking office in 2011, Corbett has increased student funding to the School District of Philadelphia by $164 million, a 14 percent increase.
"We could not be more grateful for the support Governor Corbett has provided the School District of Philadelphia," Hite said. "These funds will allow the district to return more assistant principals, guidance counselors and support staff. It will also mean additional teachers and aides to provide more special education and instructional support for students who need it."
The City of Philadelphia has also committed new revenue to the district, allowing the district to restore earlier cuts. Other district employee groups have already contributed concessions to close the budget gap, including the district's blue collar workers, who agreed to pay cuts and work-rule changes, as well as to reductions in the cost of their benefits.
Rob Wonderling, president and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, also expressed his appreciation to the governor.
"On behalf of the Philadelphia business community, I would like to express our appreciation to Governor Corbett for his leadership on this issue," Wonderling said. "The future of our city and region depend upon high-quality schools that prepare every student for success in the workplace or college. Ensuring our schools receive the funds they need is the concern of every parent, administrator, teacher, and employer in Philadelphia," Wonderling said.
Media contact: Jay Pagni, Governor's Office, 717-783-1116
Tim Eller, Dept. of Education, 717-783-9802
SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor