Philadelphia will borrow $50 million on behalf of its teetering school district to ensure that schools will open on time, Mayor Michael Nutter announced Thursday.
Nutter's comments followed school Superintendent William Hite's remarks last week that the school district needed that amount to hire back roughly 1,000 employees by the scheduled Sept. 9 opening.
The district in early July sent layoff notices to 20% of its workers, as it faced a $300 million deficit.
"I will not risk a catastrophe. We will avoid this disaster," Nutter said at a press conference, flanked by city officials.
Nutter directed city finance director Rob Dubow, treasurer Nancy Winkler and budget director Rebecca Rhynhart to immediately to take all steps necessary.
He said he examined all options, including grants, loans and the purchase of school buildings — which City Council president Darrell Clarke has suggested — or school tax liens. "Each has its own requirements, complications and challenges," the mayor said.
Nutter needs City Council approval to borrow funds against future sales tax revenues, which Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett favors. According to the mayor, the move would give Philadelphia access to $15 million per year to repay the bond issue.
Lacking council approval, the city would pay for the borrowing out of its general fund, Nutter said,
The district has $2.2 billion in general obligation debt and $1.1 billion in parity debt issued through the State Public School Building Authority.