Philly schools plan would require an extra $320 million annually

DAVID SWANSON / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Superintendent William Hite has high hopes for big bucks.
DAVID SWANSON / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Superintendent William Hite has high hopes for big bucks.
Posted: February 21, 2014

DAYS AFTER unveiling a bold plan to improve Philadelphia's public schools, Superintendent William Hite last night revealed the bold price tag to go with it: $320 million.

That's the amount of additional annual revenue the district is seeking to begin implementing Hite's Action Plan 2.0 - including enhanced early-literacy programs, added support for English-language learners and special-ed students, and more training and evaluation of teachers. The full implementation cost, however, could be almost twice that.

Hite acknowledged that the plan likely would require "a series of investments over a number of years."

"The supplement is designed to make a case for the investments that would be needed to carry out the things we're doing in the action plan," he said in a conference call with reporters. "Schools don't have what they need this year. It's been a very tough year for us without many of the revenues that are necessary."

Facing a $304 million shortfall last summer, the district laid off thousands of teachers, administrators and support staff. The city and state later stepped in to provide an extra $112 million, most of that in onetime funding.

In addition to the $320 million, the superintendent said, the district is counting on $120 million from a continuance of the city's 1 percent sales-tax increase, which City Council has not voted on because it wants to use at least some of the revenue to shore up the city pension fund.

The district's request is sure to draw the ire of some city and state lawmakers who have grown accustomed to the Philly schools' yearly financial crisis.

"We have a plan this time and we can show exactly what will be different," Hite said.

"I think we're really talking about creating some optimism that we can actually address these issues and improve our schools."

He said strategic partnerships would account for an estimated $39 million, either through donations or in-kind services.


On Twitter: @ChroniclesofSol

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