Street Wants 'A Billion' To Fix Schools He Said He'd Tell Gore To Send It. The State Must Provide More, He Stressed, But So Must The Federal Government.

Posted: March 30, 2000

Mayor Street last night said he planned to ask Vice President Gore to provide "a billion dollars" from the federal government to fix up the city's rundown schools.

Street, who said the vice president and expected Democratic presidential candidate was scheduled to be in the city Tuesday, told a crowd of parents and teachers at a community meeting in Frankford: "I'm going to tell him that when he's elected that he's got to send us a billion dollars to fix up these schools."

"The federal government could give us enough money to fix up these schools and not even miss it," the mayor said.

Street's remarks were made at Harding Middle School in a meeting that he called as part of an effort to drum up community support for a campaign to compel Harrisburg to increase its funding for Philadelphia's battered school system.

Generally at these meetings, the mayor has focused on the need to lobby Harrisburg for more funds, but yesterday he said it was "unfair" to expect the state to come up with all the money the district needed. He said the federal government should contribute, as should the city through efficiencies it can realize with tighter management.

Street has ruled out tax increases to fund school programs and vowed not to cut any educational programs. He has also promised the teachers' unions that they will get a "fair" contract in negotiations this summer. The district could have a deficit as high as $300 million, depending on the size of the pay and benefit increase in the teachers' contract.

The mayor has repeatedly said the district would run out of money next school year without added state aid.

Although he said the state did not have to provide all the money the school system needed, Street made it clear to the crowd of 600 to 800 that he expected the state to come up with a lot of the money.

"I don't want anybody to tell me that there's no money," Street said, "because I believe that there's money in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to do this."

Street told the crowd "you're entitled to this, and you shouldn't have to beg anybody."

"What I'm out here trying to do is pull that switch so that light comes on about being entitled," the mayor said.

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