By Helen Gym (City Paper) – The chaotic scramble in Harrisburg over whether to allow Philadelphia to tax itself for its own schools reveals a humbling lesson about school funding: Philadelphia is the only school district in the state lacking the power to raise its own revenue.
Instead, our schools rely most heavily on the mercurial whims of non-Philadelphia legislators. It took an outpouring of civic action, Mayor Nutter’s presence, a unified Philadelphia delegation and a questionable trade-off on charter authorization just to pass a cigarette tax in the House — only to see legislative action delayed by the Senate this week.
As of today, Philadelphia schools are $93 million short of last year’s miserable status quo. And once again, during this budget round, we didn’t gain meaningful added funding from the state. We also didn’t achieve adequate, sustainable funding since the legislature evaded both a fracking tax and the enactment of a formula for school funding.
So, now what?