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Posts Tagged ‘philadelphia school closings’


Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter says his record is being distorted by the recent ads released by the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. So he’s taking a swing back at the union with his own series of ads released today.

“The PFT leadership is running false ads, distorting my record on education funding and my support for our children,” said Mayor Nutter, in one of five videos posted to YouTube. “They failed to tell you that as mayor, I’ve increased education funding by $155 million annually, while the state has cut funding by $140 million.”

Mayor Nutter then laid out everything he’s proposed to help fund the schools– including a sweet drink tax that would have brought in an estimated $77 million, a liquor-by-drink tax that would have brought in an estimated $22 million and $94 million from an adjustment in property values in the city.

None of these measures became law and Mayor Nutter says the PFT failed to throw their support behind these proposals.

“They failed to tell you these things because their leadership has not actively supported one of these efforts in city council or in Harrisburg. They’ve been absent on supporting education funding increases for years. Well, they get an “F” in telling the truth,” said Nutter.

In a statement released today, PFT President Jerry Jordan fired back at the mayor’s accusations.

“It is the job of our elected officials, not educators, to create budgets, pass laws and develop legislation designed to properly fund our schools,” said Jordan. “We are happy to see the mayor demonstrate a new found zeal to pressure Harrisburg for additional education funding. We hope in the future he’ll fight alongside Philadelphia’s teachers and school employees rather than fighting against us.”

The PFT released another ad campaign today, but the union says they decided to pull the campaign.

NBC10′S Daralene Jones caught up with Mayor Nutter to ask him if this back-and-forth fighting is a distraction from the real issue at hand.

“There is no question that the schools need more funding and I’m prepared to fight that fight. And as I said earlier, all of us have a role to play. I think it’s unfortunate that this started a couple weeks ago with false information out there, ” said Nutter.

The first day of school in Philadelphia is Monday, September 9 and the PFT continues negotiations to come up with contracts for its 15,000 members.

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Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter responded to a new ad campaign from the city’s public school teachers blasting his handling of the city’s school budget crisis.

The new ad, which is airing on several television stations, including NBC10, as well as print and radio, accuses Mayor Nutter of being too friendly with Governor Tom Corbett instead of fighting for the future of the city’s children.

“Mayor Nutter, you promised to do right by my kids,” says mother Kia Henton, who stars in the commercial produced by the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. “But you sided with Governor Corbett. You’ve let us all down.”

Leshawna Coleman, a Philadelphia teacher trainer and member of the union, agrees with the ad’s message.

“It feels like the mayor is playing politics with the children of Philadelphia,” Coleman said.

Coleman believes Mayor Nutter should have fought harder in Harrisburg to prevent the massive budget cuts and the layoff of nearly 4,000 school district employees earlier this year.

“Parents and teachers were in Harrisburg at the end of June,” Coleman said. “We didn’t see Mayor Nutter with us.”

Mark McDonald, Mayor Nutter’s spokesman, calls the ad a “distortion of reality” and says the mayor found a way to get schools open on time. He also said he feels it’s time for the teachers to make a sacrifice in their contract negotiations.

“I think the ad is false,” McDonald said. “He has fought tooth and nail for school children and their parents in Philadelphia.”

Mayor Nutter feels the ad is a distraction from the real issues and also accused Henton of simply “reading from a script” in the commercial.

“To say that what I’m saying are lies and pretty much that I’m a puppet and that the teachers union is feeding me words is totally false,” Henton said. “What I said…was scripted because it was a commercial.”

During a press conference Monday afternoon, Mayor Nutter claimed property taxes and other funds went to students.

“Use and occupancy tax was raised and parking fees and fines were raised,” he said. “All of which went through in support of the district to the tune of $155 million in new funding for education for the children here in Philadelphia. We need a true funding formula for education in Pennsylvania. Any talk about a lack of support for education from city government is completely without merit.”

With the teacher’s union in the last weeks of their contract negotiations, Mayor Nutter says he’s putting pressure on the union to do their part by making contract concessions to help with the budget shortfall.

For several months, the School District of Philadelphia worked to close a $304 million deficit caused in part by rising labor costs, past debts and charter school growth.

The crisis began weeks ago when pink slips went out to 3,800 workers, leaving schools staffed only by principals and teachers — no secretaries, counselors or cafeteria aides.

Officials also cut athletics, music and extracurricular activities, even as they pleaded for help by asking for $60 million from the city, $120 million from the state and $133 million in union givebacks.

Earlier in August, Superintendent William Hite threatened to delay the Sept. 9 start of classes if local or state leaders did not promise $50 million by August 16. Without those funds, he said, “we cannot open functional schools, run them responsibly or provide a quality education to students.”

The monetary commitment came August 15. It’s still unclear what form the $50 million will take. Mayor Nutter says the city will borrow the funds, but council members say they won’t approve such a transaction. They want to purchase unused school property and pay the district ahead of their resales.

NBC10’s Daralene Jones spoke directly with Dr. Hite to find out what parents and students should expect once schools open.

Dr. Hite says he’s in the process of rehiring some of the laidoff workers now that he has assurance from the city that cash is on the way.

“We have some schools that had five assistant principals and six guidance counselors as they closed last year,” he said. “They may begin this year with one assistant principal and two guidance counselors. That’s a big difference.”

Dr. Hite says 1,600 of the nearly 4,000 employees laid off are in the process of being rehired. His staff will place a secretary and principal in every school.

However, NBC10 discovered that 1,100 of the 1,600 workers who are being called back are noon-time aides who only work part-time. Only priority schools, those with larger populations and a history of violence, will get the assistant principals, guidance counselors and aides they need. There will also only be a half year of music and sports.

“We’re going to do the best we can to make sure schools have what they need,” Dr. Hite said.

As for Henton, she’s happy her appearance in the ad has sparked a debate because she wants school funding issues resolved now rather than when children go back to school. She also believes asking teachers to make contract concessions is unfair.

“Our teachers are already the lowest paid in our surrounding counties,” Henton said. “I just think that it’s unfair to put that type of pressure on the teachers. The teachers are on the front lines.”

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philly schools
PHILADELPHIA – August 22, 2013 (WPVI) — Hundreds of teachers, parents and students marched to the Philadelphia School District building and the message was straightforward: They want adequate city and state funding for public education.

Marchers made their way through the streets of Center City and up Broad Street to school district headquarters late Thursday afternoon. There they held a protest ahead of the SRC meeting.

They held this march with increasing urgency- the teacher’s contract expires August 31 and school starts on September 9.

“This is a big deal. All of these people are out of a job and your kids are going to suffer as a result of it,” said Christine Donnelly, school counselor.
“Our contract expires the 31st and when schools open I don’t think we’re going to be properly staffed,” said Luke Holtje, teacher.

Last week, the city promised to borrow $50 million to give the district – just so schools can open on time.

The district will use that money to rehire 1,000 of the nearly 4,000 employees laid off over the summer. However, to hire more staff the district needs even more money.

“I want people to know that this is going to make the schools unsafe for children – having no counselors, no nurses, having one secretary in the building is going to make for unsafe conditions,” said Debbie Bambino.

The district is asking for $130 million in concessions from the teacher’s union. Teachers said, after years of concessions already, they can’t afford the 13 percent pay cut some are being asked to take.

“We give every day out of our pockets and from our hearts and enough is enough. It’s time for the state and the city to step up,” said Linda Holmes, teacher.

Millions of dollars in state funding is also contingent upon the union making concessions.

Teachers are being asked to take those pay cuts, work longer hours, and pay into health-insurance coverage. Meanwhile talks are slated to continue with the 15,000 member union.

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Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite


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Philadelphia’s school chief is set to talk about the upcoming start of the school year as the district and political leaders grapple with a multi-million dollar budget deficit forcing layoffs and cuts to programs and services.

School District of Philadelphia Superintendent Dr. William Hite is expected to address the media at a 2 p.m. will carry the conference live above.

Philadelphia’s 242 public schools are set to open for the 2013-2014 year on September 9, but the education students receive is expected to be drastically different than last year.

Due to a $304 million budget deficit, district officials laid off nearly 4,000 employees in June. The layoffs included all assistant principals, secretaries and guidance counselors. Hundreds of teachers and teacher’s aides also lost their jobs.

The funding hole would also cause schools to shelve extra-curricular activities and non-core programs like art.

District and city officials have been desperately trying to raise cash to close the funding gap.

School leaders have said they need at least $50 million in funding by the first day of school or they can’t open. The district says the money will be used to reverse some of the cuts, but hasn’t been specific.

A spokesperson for Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke said Wednesday the council will extend the temporary 1-percent sales tax hike.

That money would not be available until next year, but the passage of the extension would allow the city to immediately borrow $50 million for the school district.

Council leaders have previously promised the city would provide $74 million in funding to knock down part of the deficit, but the money has yet to materialize.

Another $45 million in forgiven federal debts could come to the district via the state, but Gov. Corbett says Philadelphia won’t get the cash unless the district enacts reforms — including $133 million in teacher union concessions.

Teachers have said they can’t give back any more.


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West Catholic High School
West Catholic High School announced Monday that it has received a $1 million

gift, the largest in the school’s history. “It’s a transformative gift for our school,”

said Brother Richard Kestler, president of the school at 45th and Chestnut


“It is the largest gift other than a capital campaign gift.” Kestler said the money,

from a donor who wished to remain anonymous, would fund the school’s newly

adopted five-year plan, which outlines strategic goals in 10 areas including en-

rollment, financial management, governance, curriculum, technology and

student life. As part of that transformation, Kestler said the school, which had

been scheduled to close a year ago, is getting a new name. “As of today, our

school name has been changed to West Catholic Preparatory High School,

Located in University City,” Kestler said. He said the name change had been

in the works for about a year. “A year ago when were were given a new life,

our board of trustees discussed what would make a major difference in the

school,” Kestler said. “They said a name change would help.” Kestler said

the strategic plan also aims to make the school self-sustaining by 2015. He

said that the school had 245 students this year and that about 350 are ex-

pected to attend in the fall. Kestler said the $1 million would pay for new

programs and staff. He said the school would hire a new admissions specialist,

reading specialist, and a data management specialist, among others. The

school will also launch a new reading program, a remediation program in

math and reading for incoming freshmen, and an SAT-prep program for stu-

dents in 11th and 12th grades. Kestler said he hoped the gift would improve

the school’s future. “What makes it interesting is the families involved – and

they want to remain anonymous – gave this gift to the school in light of trans-

forming it, turning it in a more positive direction.

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