City Voters Will Get Say on SRC Future

Non-binding referendum to be held in November.

City voters will get their chance to weigh in on the future of Philadelphia schools in November: City Council today approved a non-binding referendum on whether the state-controlled School Reform Commission should be dissolved and the schools returned to local control.

Advocates publicly asked Mayor Michael Nutter to sign the bill today, but it wasn’t immediately clear if he would.

The vote came a week after the bill was dropped from the agenda, out of concerns approval would send the wrong message to Harrisburg, where legislators are still considering whether to give Philadelphia the authority to levy a $2-a-pack tax on cigarettes to fund city schools.

“Last week’s failure to put local control on the ballot was a shocking disappointment.” Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, told the council. This measure “is something Philadelphians clearly care about. ”

Supporters had gathered 40,000 signatures in favor of the vote.

“These signatures resonate with what the people want,” said Kia Hinton of the activist group Action United. “We should have a voice” in what Philly schools look like.

The 15-1 vote came with the opposition of Councilman Bill Greenlee.

“I certainly understnd the desire for change in our public schools,” he said. “The fact is, nothing changes if this this measure passes. The SRC will still exist. In short, I don’t think a charter referendum should be an opinion poll.”

Councilman Wilson Goode Jr. disagreed.

“I’ll be voting yes today,” he said, “and I’ll be voting yes in November.”