Philly schools get $256M in advance funding

Dive Brief:

  • The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett will give Philly schools a $256 advance on funding​ so they can open on time next month.
  • Corbett attempted on Monday, to no avail, to convince legislators to pass a $2-per-pack cigarette tax that would ultimately fund the district's schools.
  • Officials had forecast that without the funding advance, over 1,000 district employees would be laid off next week and over 100,000 kids would start school late — but even with it, the city still faces a crisis because the money is only part of existing funding, not new.

Dive Insight:

Philadelphia's school funding problems aren't new, but the fact that this is at least the second year that they've threatened to derail the start of the school year is troubling. In an editorial on Monday, the PennLive Editorial Board blasted the state's legislature over the issue. "It is irresponsible and indefensible to hold the children of Philadelphia hostage in these kinds of internecine political battles," they wrote, additionally describing the legislators as making "the dysfunctional agglomeration of warring politicians known as the U.S. Congress look like a harmonious, sleek-running machine."

Even with this funding advance from Corbett, one thing is clear: The city needs more funding if it is ever to get out of the mess it's in. And to make matters worse, it doesn't just have politicians working against its favor, but an inadequate funding system to boot. According to a Center for American Progress report released this week, Philadelphia, Chicago, and a number of other cities suffer from funding systems that are based on property taxes, essentially favoring financially well-off schools by default.

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