Jonathan Cetel is the founding executive director of PennCAN. He lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Just in case you weren’t really convinced that the School District of Philadelphia’s fiscal crisis was real, last week Superintendent Dr. Bill Hite said that he may not open up schools in the fall if he does not get an additional $50 million to recall essential personnel by Friday.

We can’t let that happen.

That’s why today, PennCAN hand-delivered this letter to Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and City Council urging them to immediately approve the redirection of the 1 percent sales tax, which will allow the District to borrow $50 million this year and generate $120 million in recurring revenue.

Please join me in helping to make sure that the School District of Philadelphia can open safely and on time.

At PennCAN, we are committed to building a system of public schools that is adequately resourced and has the policies in place for students and teachers to thrive.

$50 million is merely enough to open up the doors, but it is not enough to provide the high-quality education our students deserve. And more importantly, money without reforms will simply return us to the status quo, which everyone agrees is unacceptable.

The School District of Philadelphia could immediately access an additional $45 million in state aid if they either impose or negotiate meaningful reforms. We support Governor Corbett’s decision to not release the $45 million until real reforms, like mutual consent and a longer school day, are a reality for teachers and students in Philadelphia.

That’s the deal we fought for in this state budget, and we remain committed to the idea that Philadelphia is in dire need of both money AND reforms. One without the other just isn’t fair to our kids.


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