Mr. Paul Vallas
Chief Executive Officer
School District of Philadelphia
440 North Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130
Dear Mr. Vallas:
I am writing to state my opposition to the numerous proposed budget cuts that have been detailed in the recent news accounts regarding the Philadelphia School District.
Some of these proposed cuts – art and music, athletics and sports, teen parenting centers, truancy officers, librarians, nurses and counselors - would have a devastating impact on our schools and many of your own education reform efforts.
It is unclear to me and many member of the public, especially parents and students, how the District’s finances have deteriorated over the past two years without more information being shared with the public, and more importantly, without a long term plan to fix the structural financial challenges that our District continues to face.
In response to this current funding crisis, I am asking that the District develop a comprehensive plan involving the wealth of partners who depend upon stable and improving public education system for the progress of this city and region. The Philadelphia School District must reach out in a cooperative manner to the City of Philadelphia, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the foundation community, the many area colleges and universities, the education advocacy community and of course citizens, parents and students to develop a plan of action that will fully inform all of the stakeholders about the direction of public education and the quality of our educational services. The School District’s current schedule will not allow sufficient review and opportunity for public input.
I am proposing that you and the School Reform Commission take the following steps:
* Provide a full, detailed disclosure of how the current budget crisis developed and a complete accounting of the past two years’ actions taken to prevent any negative educational impact on students because of funding deficiencies.
* Request a review of the Philadelphia School District finances by the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority which would serve as an independent financial oversight entity.
* Provide a public explanation of the overall impact of the educational and service impacts of any budget-cut plan that is submitted to the School Reform Commission, including the impact on planning as required by the No Child Left Behind laws.
* Provide a school-by-school analysis of any proposed educational and service impacts of any budget-cut plan that is submitted to the School Reform Commission.
* Engage in a week of public hearings in City Council Chambers in order for the public, parents and students to fully understand what the District’s proposed cuts are and how those cuts will impact the educational experience of our students prior to any budget action by the Philadelphia School District and the School Reform Commission. The District can utilize the procedure outlined in the Home Rule School District Charter section 12-209(b) for public meetings of the School Reform Commission, the City Council and the Mayor.
I am strongly encouraging that you take time to extend the public input schedule, because the currently announced schedule provides virtually no real time for input by anyone.
I believe that these steps would result in a more comprehensive and thoughtful budget and would also help to restore public confidence in the School District. Thank you for your consideration, and I would appreciate your timely response.
Michael A. Nutter
Candidate for Mayor of Philadelphia
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Mr. Paul Vallas
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