Philly schools superintendent joins national push for more federal funds for schools

School District of Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite speaks during a news conference Wednesday, March 18, 2020, at City Hall (Photo via The Philadelphia Tribune)

By Chanel Hill

PHILADELPHIA — School District of Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite and 61 other big-city superintendents are calling on Congress to approve new funding for local school systems.

“The economic recession resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to erase all of the progress we’ve made after overcoming severe financial challenges in 2012,” Hite said Thursday.

“Now is the time for us all to think of ways to advocate at every level to ensure that none of our districts have to make those difficult decisions. We’re committed to making sure our students will continue to receive the support and resources they need to get the education they deserve,” he added.

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In a letter to Congress, the Council of the Great City Schools, the coalition of large urban school districts of which the School District of Philadelphia is a member, asked lawmakers for financial support to help offset the unexpected costs districts are incurring in providing meal services to students and providing home-based instruction while schools are closed.

The letter also calls for an additional federal allocation of $175 billion in Educational Stabilization Funds to be distributed to the local level through the Title I formula. The group also urges Congress to provide an additional $13 billion for the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), $12 billion in additional Title I program funding, $2 billion for E-Rate, and emergency infrastructure funds that include public schools.

“We know that many districts stand to face significant fiscal challenges in the months and years ahead,” Hite said. “We’re projecting a $38 million revenue shortfall for fiscal year 2020-2021 and that is with the stimulus money, a fund balance, and the dollars projected to come from the state and city.

“That would reach over a billion dollars by fiscal year 2025,” he added. “We’re also projecting the loss of local tax revenues and significant reduction in state subsidy next year, so we’re looking for ways to increase our revenue and reduce our spending. ”

Graded instruction to begin Monday

The School District of Philadelphia will begin grading students for their online work on Monday.

Teachers will assign projects that align with grade-level standards, Hite said. The grades on those projects will be combined with the grades from work done Jan. 30 through March 13 to determine students’ third marking period grades. Final grades will be the average of the three marking periods.

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Changes to technology support center hours

Starting Monday, the school district’s technology support centers will be open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, excluding holidays.

The centers are located at the Education Center, 440 N. Broad St. (First Floor Lobby) and FitzPatrick Annex Building, 4101 Chalfont Drive (rear of FitzPatrick Elementary School).

For more information on the tech support centers, call (215) 400-4444 or email [email protected]

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