Philly schools issue call to action on education funding

George W Nebinger Public School (Philadelphia Tribune photo)

By Chanel Hill

PHILADELPHIA — The School District of Philadelphia has launched a Fund Our Schools campaign, encouraging people to advocate for public education funding.

The district is facing a projected $38 million shortfall for the 2020-21 academic year due revenue losses resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. That shortfall could grow to $1 billion over the next five years.

“If public education funding is cut, it makes it more challenging to offer our students the education they deserve,” Superintendent William Hite said Thursday.

The Fund Our Schools campaign includes a variety of actions people can take to reach out to elected officials. Thursdays will be declared Public Education Advocacy Day in Philadelphia.

“The district has prepared sample scripts, letters, and social media examples calling on state elected officials to maintain the 2019-20 education funding levels and to send the district all of its allotted federal relief fund,” Hite said.

District, WorkReady to offer digital summer job opportunities for students

The District will be one of more than 90 WorkReady partner organizations providing redesigned and paid digital opportunities for students. WorkReady is managed by the Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN).

The digital job opportunities will focus on digital career exposure, financial literacy, and digital literacy and brand identity

“We want to ensure that students have access to meaningful work experiences that will help them grow, even though those opportunities will be different this school year,” Hite said.

According to PYN, about 550 District students will participate in the paid summer opportunities related to career and technical education.

Approximately 250 students will participate in career preparation summer internships and entrepreneurship programs where students will learn concepts like presentation skills, finance, and budgets.

Another 300 students will participate in a middle school career and technical education exploration program or gain work experience in industries like communications, business, finance, accounting, construction trades, and agriculture.

Working papers are not required to participate in incentive-based digital experiences through WorkReady.

The deadline for applications is June 30.

Working papers

The District’s Office of Career and Technical Education will issue working papers to students ages 14-18 through appointments only 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

In-person appointments will be at the District’s Education Center, 440 N. Broad St. Everyone is required to wear a face mask and practice social distancing.

Virtual graduation ceremony

The virtual graduation ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, June 9, and will be broadcast on the district’s website, Comcast Xfinity (Channel 52) and Verizon Fios (Channel 20).

“We want our students to represent their schools and represent what they have achieved,” Hite said. “We’re also coming up with a plan on how to get young people caps and gowns for this special occasion.”

The ceremony will include remarks from Hite, Mayor Jim Kenney, and select students. The Philadelphia Orchestra will perform and there will also be a 90-minute livestreamed dance party.

The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts and The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia will coordinate the event and serve as the virtual host.

The district also will host a virtual after party later at 7 p.m.

The after-party will feature music by Philadelphia native DJ Aktive and a performance by R&B group Good Girl. DJ Diplo and NFL players Rodney McLeod and Malcolm Jenkins are expected to send out well wishes via social media.

Chanel Hill is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.