City Guaranteeing Funding for Philly Schools

Officials hope to expedite sale of shuttered school buildings, but will ensure cash is there if sales are slow

By Vince Lattanzio
|  Wednesday, Oct 30, 2013  |  Updated 4:24 PM EDT
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City Guaranteeing Funding for Philly Schools

Brad Larrison | NewsWorks.org

John L. Kinsey Elementary in North Philadelphia is one of 23 schools closed by the Philadelphia School District.

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The City of Philadelphia is guaranteeing tens of millions of dollars in emergency funding to the School District of Philadelphia as officials work hard to sell defunct school buildings.

City officials promised $50 million in emergency funding to the district at the beginning of this school year, but have yet to decide where the money would be coming from.

The school district says they need the money by the new year to continue running in its current capacity.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Mayor Michael Nutter said officials hope to get the funding by aggressively selling the district's 31 vacant school buildings. But in case the buildings did not sell quickly, he signed a transfer of $50 million from the city's Grants Revenue Fund into the General Fund to ensure the district gets the money it needs no matter the scenario.

“We now have the funds to make the district whole in any case,” he said.

In the meantime, the mayor said the school district has signed an agreement with the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PDIC) to find buyers for the buildings.

Council President Darrell Clarke said there have been at least three separate offers to buy all the school buildings in one shot so far. They have set a deadline to submit purchase proposals for next Wednesday at noon.

The financially-strapped school district headed into the new school year with a $304 million deficit that required the layoff of nearly 4,000 teachers and staff. With funds pledged, the district is still more than $100 million in the hole. They hope to make up that difference through teacher contract concessions.

Nutter also said the city would be transferring an additional $60 million in funding, that it normally pays out to the district in the spring, early. He says that early transfer will help the district with cash-flow issues.

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