Rally spotlights Philadelphia School District crisis

PHILADELPHIA - August 14, 2013

Last week, School Superintendent William Hite shocked a lot of people when he said he needs a firm written commitment by this Friday from City Hall for $50-million, if the state's largest district is to fully open on time with even a minimal staff.

Mayor Michael Nutter said today he continues to try to broker a deal with City Council to green light an aspect of the Governor's plan that would produce a $50-million loan that would be paid for through an extension of the sales tax.

"The most direct and straight forward, non-controversial, no real questions to wonder about, is to pass a sales tax and get the school district its money as quickly as possible," Nutter said.

But Council President Darrell Clarke is backing a far different plan that does not involve borrowing, his staff says. Instead Clarke would give the schools the $50-million from city coffers in return for a list of surplus school buildings that the city would later sell for more than $100-million.

Clarke was unavailable today, but Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell thinks the idea could fly.

"It's our plan. It's clean. We can market properties and move forward in a timely manner, give the superintendent his MoU, and begin our work," Blackwell said.

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