Very little time is left to do something near-miraculous to fund Philadelphia's public schools, save 4,000 jobs and restore programs and other cuts.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter paid a surprise visit to Pennsylvania's House Appropriations Committee.
Nutter met with committee Chairman William Adolph on Tuesday to discuss the Philadelphia School District’s financial woes and then stayed to observe the panel's meeting.
The mayor wants the state to put up an additional $120 million next year to help close a budget gap of more than $300 million. The city is also lobbying for bills to allow the city to increase a liquor-by-the-drink tax and levy a local cigarette tax.
Last week, the school district issued layoff notices to 3780 school employees.
“The budget situation is still undecided,” said Fernando Gallard of the Philadelphia School District. “We are waiting for the budget for the city and state to be passed.”
Leaders of the Republican majority that controls the Legislature say they haven't closed the door on additional aid, but they're stressing that the state's finances are tight and other school districts also are struggling.
On Wednesday, the Philadelphia City Council will discuss different ways to balance the budget and send emergency funding to schools.
“There is a committee hearing on Wednesday,” said Mayor Nutter. “Hopefully votes will be taken on Thursday.”
Next Friday is the final day of classes for Philadelphia public schools. For those enrolled at the 23 schools that are being shut down, it will be their last day before transferring to new schools in the fall. June 24 will be the last day for teachers and staff as some will say goodbye without knowing if they will have a job to come back to.
“If the money doesn’t come, those positions can’t be put back into the schools,” said Gallard. “If funding is not secured it’s going to be a very difficult school year and very challenging in the schools. Principals have been clear in saying they don’t know how they are going to manage the schools without the personnel that was laid off.”
The state budget is due on June 30.