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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: January 5, 2015 09:01 AM
From: Representative W. Curtis Thomas
To: All House members
Subject: Legislation addressing the Philadelphia School District fiscal crisis and school closures
In the near future, I plan to re-introduce two pieces of legislation that would address issues in the Philadelphia School District. One would require the School Reform Commission to prepare and provide two revenue estimates annually for the Philadelphia Public Schools to the Secretary of the Budget and the chairman of the Education Committee of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The other would provide an extra 60 days to the disposition statute dealing with the closure of schools.

More than 12 years ago, the School Reform Commission (SRC) was appointed to oversee the running of the Philadelphia School District. As the chief financial officer for the school district, the SRC is responsible for myriad decisions that directly impact the running of schools.

In 2013, more than 20 Philadelphia City Schools were closed and thousands of workers lost their jobs because of a fiscal crisis. While there has been much discussion surrounding the choice of schools that were closed, there is no argument over the current economic climate that has created much of the hardship.

I hope you will consider sponsoring one or both piece of legislation.

Document #1

Introduced as HB311

Description: Financial Reporting
The first bill would require the SRC to provide a financial snapshot of the school district twice a year, reporting revenue from federal and state funds, as well as from other sources, and to project any revenue surplus or deficit. By obtaining these estimates twice a year, I believe the school district and the state would be better prepared to foresee future fiscal issues and to take necessary steps toward addressing the problems before the issues become a crisis.
The reporting language in my proposed legislation is patterned after that found in Chapter 41 of Title 71, dealing with the Independent Fiscal Office.
(Formerly HB 1663 of the 2013-14 Legislative Session)


Document #2

Description: Additional Public Comment Period
The second bill simply provides another 60 days, for a total of 5 months, for public comments, hearings and discussion before the decision is made to close a school. For families and students, not just those in Philadelphia, the closing of a local public school represents not just an inconvenience, but the disruption of education. The extra time that I propose would give the school district, families and the students a better chance of moving forward with realistic options that support the constitutionally required “thorough and efficient public education.”
(Formerly HB 1664 of the 2013-14 Legislative Session)