Philly Schools in Mad Dash for Cash From State, Feds

By hook or by crook, Philadelphia schools are searching for the money that will help them avoid the “doomsday” scenario of starting the fall school year without assistant principals, secretaries, and classroom aides. But it’s going to be a slog. NewsWorks reports that City Council plans to pass a cigarette tax — then wash its hands of the mess:

The Council plans to pass a tax of $2-per-pack of cigarettes, proposed by Mayor Michael Nutter, combined with enhanced revenue collection of about $28 million in back taxes.

Council President Darrell Clarke says that will add up to $74.4 million for the schools. City officials have done all they can do to help the schools, he said.

“We pretty much shot our load on those two measures,” he said.

The Daily News reports that a number of possibilities are available at the state level:

Gov. Corbett and state and city officials were moving closer to a deal that could send up to $100 million to the struggling district.

Sources cautioned, however, that securing a sum that high would be an uphill climb and that no plan had been finalized.

Discussions included potentially diverting a portion of the 1 percent increase to the sales tax the city enacted in 2009, increasing state charter-school reimbursements or finding other revenue streams, according to sources, who said a more realistic figure would be closer to $66 million.

And CBS says the feds may come through with a one-time stimulus:

A high-placed state legislative source says the discussions involve at least $120 million in Health and Human Service dollars that have been held back from Pennsylvania for a decade or longer by the feds, though the source cannot say why the money has been withheld or what is was originally earmarked for.

The source also doesn’t know anyone brimming with optimism about the outcome of the discussions. The feds would not only have to release the funds, but they would also have to agree to re-designate them for education.