The Brief: Unapologetic Bill Hite Presses His Case for More Cash for Schools

"This is what it costs to educate a child," he says. Plus, mediocre grades for the Community College of Philadelphia.

William Hite, Superintendent of Philadelphia Schools, in the Pennsylvania Capitol meeting with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and state legislators seeking funds for Philadelphia Schools during state budget talks Sunday, June 29, 2014, in Harrisburg, Pa. AP Photo | Bradley C. Bower

William Hite, Superintendent of Philadelphia Schools, in Harrisburg last year. He’s got a whole new funding fight in 2015. AP Photo | Bradley C. Bower

1. With City Council prepped to short the School District, Superintendent Bill Hite urges politicians not to let the district’s ongoing crisis become the new normal.

The gist: As Citified’s Holly Otterbein first reported, City Council is now considering an array of funding options for the schools that will fall short of the $105 million requested by Hite. Probably well short. Council members have telegraphed this for a while, particularly during last week’s district budget hearings, which were a spectacle. This week, City Council President Darrell Clarke said Hite’s request — which totals $300 million overall, including $200 million from the state — represents a “Cadillac version of what [Hite would] like to see moving forward.”

Hite is pushing back. He told the Inquirer’s editorial board: “I respect Council’s position as the authorizing authority for additional revenue. But I’m the superintendent, which means I have to tell you what it costs to educate children.”

What it means: The disconnect between Council’s perception of what the district needs and what Hite believes is necessary is wide and growing. Hite told the Inky ed board that the district’s current predicament — where there is real doubt each summer if the schools can afford to open in the fall — cannot become the new normal. This can be read two ways. One, Hite is truly worried about permanent damage to the district’s brand the annual crises are creating. Two, it sounds like Hite’s patience is running out. How many more years of this is he willing to endure?

2. A new Pew report gives the Community College of Philadelphia mixed marks.

The gist: A study from the Pew Charitable Trusts gives mixed grades to CCP, which has a mediocre graduation rate, serves a relatively small share of Philadelphia residents and fails to meet some accreditation standards, the Inquirer reports. But the news isn’t all bad. Black and Asian graduation rates at the college are comparatively high, and the school graduated nearly 400 more students in 2013-2014 than in did in 2007-2008.

Why it matters: The Community College is a hugely important institution for Philadelphia. The city desperately needs to upgrade the skills of its workforce, both to appeal to employers and to give low and moderate income residents a chance to climb the economic ladder. The Community College is the first, vital rung in that process for nearly 2,000 students a year. Still, there are doubts in many circles that the College is doing what’s necessary to become the job-training force it needs to be. The Inquirer highlighted this passage from the report:

“The college’s ambitions for improvement are high, but the school in past years has not undertaken the kind of sweeping changes that some other community colleges have mounted,” wrote Thomas Ginsberg, the report’s author.

Check out Biz Philly later today for a deeper look at the report.

3. A City Council committee passed a package of ordinances that will clear the way for redevelopment of the Gallery mall on Wednesday.

The gist: As the Daily News reports:

Winning tentative committee approval yesterday was a $55 million tax break, known as a TIF or tax increment financing, for the developers.

Also approved by the committee was a measure that requires the developers to pay their employees and employees of subcontractors – such as those who provide security, maintenance and janitorial services – a “living wage” of at least $12 an hour, said Council President Darrell Clarke.

Why it matters: This was the big hurdle the Gallery needed to clear in Council. Now out of committee, the package of ordinances is sure to pass the full Council before the summer recess.

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