Increased Funding for Philadelphia Schools

Charter, District, and Catholic school leaders ask city and state to provide $180 million
in additional funding and urge state to begin moving toward student-based funding formula

PHILADELPHIA, PA –The Philadelphia Great Schools Compact Committee today called on state legislators in both parties and the Governor to support the School District leadership’s request for $120 million to support children attending or receiving services from Philadelphia public schools, and to move to a student-based funding formula as the means for distributing K-12 education funds in the Commonwealth. Additionally, the Committee called on City Council and Mayor Nutter to provide $60 million in new revenue to support learning for Philadelphia students.

The Compact Committee also urged that a bipartisan commission be formed before July 1, 2013, with a mandate to recommend a new process for allocating K-12 education dollars in time for legislative debate next fall. The commission should thoroughly review a proposal to allocate funds on a weighted per-pupil basis, with multiple tiers for weighting students’ special needs. It should also include a proposed timeline for implementing the new formula, over one or several years.  Finally, the commission should also examine charter school funding, recommending equitable mechanisms to adequately fund all public schools.

The Great Schools Compact is a joint commitment among charter, district and Catholic school leaders to ensure that policies, strategies and resources align to a common goal of providing a high-performing school option for every child.

The Compact recognized that the new SRC has made and continues to make difficult decisions to rightsize the Commonwealth’s largest school district, reducing administrative staff, securing and pursuing reduction in personnel costs, and closing underutilized buildings while seeking to reduce the number of children in chronically poor performing seats (a fundamental organizing principle of the Compact); however, core funding for Philadelphia public schools remains inadequate.   Philadelphia public schools were forced to finance $300 million to maintain basic operations in FY 14 while continuing to operate 247 district managed schools, monitor 84 charter schools, and provide in 2012 almost 5,000 additional charter school seats through authorized enrollment expansions.  Absent new revenue and labor concessions, Philadelphia public schools face a projected shortfall of $304 million, requiring cuts to district schools in FY 13, and thereby also impacting the financial stability of charter schools and private schools that use district services. 

“Leaders of district, charter and Catholic schools have been working together, through the Great Schools Compact, to create an environment that gives students and families more access to high quality schools of all types,” said Dr. Lori Shorr, chief education officer to Mayor Michael Nutter and chair of the Compact Committee. “A state funding system that doesn’t take enrollment shifts into account impedes this city’s effort to ensure that every student has access to a quality education.”

Charter school operators in the Compact recognize that the loss of state charter school funding to school districts hasn’t only hurt district schools. Because charter schools’ per-pupil funding is based on the district’s prior-year spending, charter schools would be expected to provide the same level of service with lower revenues making it difficult to maintain the high quality services that students deserve.

The Great Schools Compact

The Great Schools Compact is a joint commitment of school providers and education leaders to ensure that policies, strategies and resources align to a common goal of providing a high-performing school option for every child. The Compact is signed by The School District of Philadelphia, The Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools, Philadelphia Charters for Excellence, independent charter and non-public schools, Mayor Michael A. Nutter, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (recused for purposes of this action), and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia as a commitment to share responsibility and work together to expand high-quality K-12 school options and dramatically reduce the number of chronically underperforming schools by 2016-17. The Compact Committee oversees the implementation of the Compact and leads working groups around five key areas: talent, facilities, accountability, universal enrollment, and shared services. The Philadelphia School Partnership serves as the project manager of the Compact Committee, which is chaired by the Mayor’s Chief Education Officer.  To review the Great Schools Compact and learn more, please visit www.phillygreatschoolscompact.org.

Contact:

Kristen Forbriger, Manager of Communications & Public Affairs
Philadelphia School Partnership
610-585-4819 (cell)
kforbriger@philaschool.org