Philadelphia, February 19, 2015 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter issued the following statement in response to the decision yesterday by the School Reform Commission on 39 applications for new charter schools:
Faced with yet another huge deficit in its budget, the School Reform Commission has been placed in a fiscal and political vice grip, and yet last night in its handling of 39 charter school applications, it acted in a prudent manner by running a thorough and diligent process and then approving five applications as a small part of its overall strategy to continue creating and supporting great schools for every student.
Approving five charter applications does not have a fiscal impact on the school district’s budget starting in July, and it has a minimal impact in the final years of the District’s Five Year Plan. The new charter seats created last night are roughly the same in number as those in other charters that are closing or likely to close this year. And significantly, the SRC also put conditions on these new charter schools while delaying final authorization until later this year, thus demonstrating its commitment to educational quality balanced with fiscal responsibility.
But we must not let this debate divide us and take our eyes off the well-established need to change completely the methods that the Commonwealth uses to fund public education. It’s unfair and unfortunate that the SRC is in a position where it must choose between expanding quality education for some students at the expense of others. This must change.
We who understand the importance of properly funded, high-quality public education in building a strong and resilient economy in the City and state will be advocating for a fair and full funding formula for public education that includes charter school reimbursement payments to school districts, either in the formula or as a separate line item.
In the last five years, as the state receded in its support for schools across the Commonwealth, the City of Philadelphia has acted as a responsible funder, adding more than $360 million in annual recurring dollars for the School District. Establishing a new full and fair funding formula for public education in Pennsylvania is the most important public policy decision facing the Governor and the General Assembly, and we will be there fighting for our children and all children in the Commonwealth.