Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, which is part of PCAPS, told reporters outside district headquarters that the coalition supports increased academic rigor and better preparation of graduates for life after school.
"What we don't see in this plan is the change in austerity of the school district's budget," Jordan said. "We can't put in Advanced Placement classes. We can't put in International Baccalaureate classes. We can't put in art and music for all children. And we cannot provide them with a safe environment using an austerity budget." International Baccalaureate, a rigorous college-preparatory program, is a nonprofit organization that charges fees to the schools that use its curriculum.
The district has slowly cut away at "basic things" over the last few years, Jordan said.
"Having a library with a librarian is not a frill," he said. "Having a nurse is not a frill."
The district's idea of achieving savings by securing concessions from teachers does not sit well with some parents, said Anne Gemmell, political director for Fight for Philly, also a member of the coalition.
"The last thing I want is for increased turnover or a reason for those teachers to leave," said Gemmell, who said she has two children in public elementary schools. "At some point Dr. Hite needs to take a stand and say this is the cost of running a school district that services 250,000 children, many of them high-needs children."
In the plan, Hite calls the district a "bare bones" operation.
" 'How much less can your kids do with?' I'm tired of that conversation," Gemmell said. "I want to have the conversation about how are the elected leaders that represent my kids and our communities here in Philadelphia, how are they going to do the hard work of finding the revenue that our kids deserve?"
Hite said that in the three months he's been on the job, he has listened to the district's stakeholders - parents, teachers, students, administrators, business leaders, clergy, city officials and neighborhood associations. Two themes popped up in his many conversations, he said.
"We must do more to prepare our students for the world beyond our school doors, and we must position the district for fiscal survivability," Hite wrote in his plan.
On Twitter: @ReginaMedina