Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has directed the release of $45 million in one-time state funds for use by Philadelphia’s teetering school district — the state’s largest — for the upcoming school year.
Corbett, in a statement late Wednesday afternoon, said he conferred with acting state education secretary Carolyn Dumaresq before releasing the funds.
By law, Dumaresq had to certify that the district has begun to implement fiscal, educational and operational changes.
“Fiscal and academic reforms are necessary for the long-term survival of the School District of Philadelphia,” Corbett said.
The district has a balanced budget and five-year plan, and it is now maintaining expenditure levels that do not exceed available resources.
“These funds will allow the district to return more assistant principals, guidance counselors and support staff,” said Philadelphia schools superintendent William Hite. “It will also mean additional teachers and aides to provide more special education and instructional support for students who need it.”
Corbett cautioned, however, that the work was far from complete.
“Real progress at the district will not be possible without meaningful reforms, specifically to the collective bargaining agreement with the Philadelphia teachers’ union,” Corbett said. “It is time for the leadership of the union to step up and do their part.”
This year, Pennsylvania taxpayers figure to pay more than $1.3 billion into the district, according to Corbett.
The City of Philadelphia has also committed new revenue to the district, allowing the district to restore earlier cuts. Other district employee groups have already contributed concessions to close the budget gap, including the district’s blue collar workers, who agreed to pay cuts and work-rule changes, as well as to reductions in the cost of their benefits.
Philadelphia’s school district has received downgrades from rating agencies. In late August, the city borrowed $50 million to enable the schools to open on time.