Charity Donates $1.5M to Philly Schools

The William Penn Foundation says the money will go directly to pay for a consulting group to help restructure the school district

The William Penn Foundation has promised $1.5 million to the city's deficit-ridden schools and its president says he'll help the district solicit money from other private donors.

“Frankly, [SRC Chairman Pedro Ramos] and I are going on a fundraising tour to see if we can be helpful,” foundation president Jeremy Nowak told the Inquirer.  “I think this is a defining moment for the city of Philadelphia.”

The donation from the William Penn Foundation is modest compared to the $38 million budget gap the Philadelphia School District faces for the current year.

But foundation president Jeremy Nowak tells The Philadelphia Inquirer the money is a vote of confidence in the School Reform Commission's efforts to fix the district's financial situation.

Nowak tells the Inquirer that the money will go directly to pay for a consulting group to help restructure the school district.

The Inquirer reports that Philadelphia-area philanthropists have a history of avoiding giving donations to the school district because of the district’s history of poor choices.

The SRC last month hired Thomas Knudsen to the new title of chief recovery officer, acting as superintendent and financial manager, which Nowak says was a sign that the district is making smart decisions.

The district laid off more than 1,000 teachers over the summer and issued layoff notices to the blue-collar workers earlier this year.

“The biggest risk is will they will be able to come out with a plan, and will they be able to implement the plan that gets us to where we want to get to?  And will they be able to implement it, given the complexity of the politics of education?” Nowak told the Inquirer.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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