Council wants to control schools

Posted: June 06, 2014

LIKE WACKY Waving Inflatable Arm-Flailing Tubemen, members of City Council are trying to draw attention to the fact that the city wants control of its school district back.

Hoping to get that message across to Harrisburg, Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell introduced legislation yesterday that calls for abolition of the School Reform Commission, the state-appointed board that oversees the School District of Philadelphia.

Blackwell says that if put to Philadelphia voters, a question on the November ballot would garner overwhelming support and would bolster the more than 38,000 petition signatures already collected by Council calling for the SRC to be dissolved.

"We're hoping that the governor, the state House and Senate will look at this and see that we need a change," she said. "We can't keep going on like this."

Although a referendum on doing away with the SRC would be nonbinding, Council passed the measure unanimously.

"We have the same problems over and over. Things don't get better, and yet there are more school closings. There are children who are not passing, and yet the dollars go up," said Blackwell, adding that she supports a local, elected school board to take the place of the SRC.

Also yesterday, Council amended Mayor Nutter's proposed capital budget - which must pass by the end of the month - by adding $2.9 million. Amendments introduced by Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. allocate $250,000 to the Betsy Ross House, $250,000 to the Philadelphia History Museum and $2.4 million to the Free Library of Philadelphia, all for upgrades and improvements.

Councilwoman Marian Tasco introduced a bill on behalf of the Nutter administration that would let the city borrow $20 million to give to the school district. The bill would make good on a funding pledge that Nutter and Clarke made to the district last fall.

Council adjourns for the summer June 26.

On Twitter: @RuffTuffDH

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