Hite Sets Aug. 15 Deadline for Cigarette Tax
OK: William Hite can wait to Aug. 4 to find out if Philly will get a $2-a-pack cigarette tax to fund its schools. But he can’t wait much longer.
The city’s school superintendent said Wednesday that if no tax passes by Aug. 15, he’ll begin layoffs and consider delaying the fall start of classes.
Hite stressed that, without additional funding, major decisions would need to be made by mid-August.
“If in fact we don’t have a path forward by Aug.15 … we would have to begin sending out layoff notices, and those layoff notices would be based on whatever [money] we have or do not have at that point in time,” he said.
Hite says revenue from the tax is critical to opening school on time.
“Without any of that, then it’s not likely that we would be opening,” he said.
Because Hite says he has no intention of opening schools with up to 40 students in classrooms, and fewer school police. Hite says he’s disheartened that approval of the tax has been tied up by politics.
“It’s extremely frustrating, because it has nothing to do with educating children,” he said.
School officials previously said they might have to lay off 1,300 employees, swell class sizes to 40 or more, ax school police officers, and further cut services to students.
At least one of those doomsday scenarios would not come to pass, the superintendent said Wednesday.
“I’m saying definitively, I’m not going to put 40 children in a class,” he told reporters, “because they’re not going to be safe.”