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Philadelphia's schools will open on Sept. 9, as scheduled, thanks to a promise of $50 million from the city. But beyond that, little is certain. For starters, the school district's needs are much greater than $50 million; additionally, Mayor Michael Nutter and the city council have presented separate plans for providing the $50 million:
Underneath the tug-of-war between the mayor and Council is the reality that Harrisburg came up short on its own contribution and dealt Philadelphia a lousy hand. The District said it had a $304 million budget hole and asked Harrisburg for $120 million, the city for $60 million, and labor for $133 million in concessions.
Harrisburg leaders, without consulting with Philadelphia officials, appropriated as its $120 million contribution an extension of a 1 percent city sales tax—money that many city leaders, including Clarke, had been counting on to help solve the city's pension crisis. It then said that the city could borrow $50 million against the future revenue to help plug the District's hole this year. [...]
Gov. Corbett is holding back another $45 million in a one-time payment from the state, raised by negotiating forgiveness of money owed the federal government, until the District gets unspecified "reforms" in the teachers' contract. On Tuesday, City leaders demanded that this money be released, but Corbett's administration nixed the idea.
[T]he district's School Reform Commission will suspend rules that use seniority to govern which employees are rehired, and it will also give the district the flexibility to ignore rules on granting pay for advanced credentials and length of service. Those rules apply to employees "with whom the school district has not reached an acceptable collective bargaining agreement," code of sorts for the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, with whom negotiations are ongoing.
It cannot be stressed enough that this is all happening at a time when the state is building a $400 million prison just outside of Philadelphia.