A day after Mayor Michael Nutter said he supported providing up to $110 million in additional funds for the cash-strapped School District of Philadelphia, more than 100 parents and community leaders gathered at City Hall to serve as cheerleaders.
The district is facing dire straits with a $629 million shortfall thanks to cuts in state funding and the loss of federal stimulus dollars. As a result, officials have proposed cutting more than 1,000 teachers, reducing central office staff by 50 percent, eliminating free transportation, and doing away with full-day kindergarten, among other things.
“The budget cuts will cause our children to lose the progress they have made. This is beyond politics; this is survival,” Bishop Audrey Bronson, head of the Black Clergy of Philadelphia & Vicinity, said during a marathon public testimony session in front of City Council.
Some Council members acknowledged that they support additional funding, but are both reluctant to raise taxes and hand over the money without additional oversight. So far, there has been no talk about other cuts to the city budget.
“We know no more than we did yesterday,” said Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell. “Still there’s no talk about millage because one would have to find cuts, and the mayor has said nothing to total City Council.”