Transcripts of full meetings of the council.

Thank you, Mr. President. I echo the words of Councilman Jones. The data speaks for itself, and I know that all of us are extremely concerned about what that means overall to our tax base.

Today I introduced a bill to add to the conversation as we move forward in this budget cycle to talk about education. There is not a conversation that I share with one of my co-sponsors, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, where we don't express our concern for what we are going to do about the School District and funding, not only this year but as we move forward. We have that conversation not just as Councilpeople but as mothers concerned about the future of our children and our grandchildren and the children of our constituents.

Many folks in this Chamber may not know that Councilman Jones has provided direct leadership around school funding and education options particularly in his district, and I want to take this opportunity to congratulate him, as I have constituents in my district who travel to SLA Beeber in his district because that is a high-performing school with high-performing slots, which is what our parents are asking for.

But I do this introduction because I believe there's great promise. There's great promise because after all the chaos around school funding, we have certain things that have been missing in the past and in the debate. We have leadership. Dr. Hite has provided strong leadership and a renewed faith in all of us that we can lead to a better situation at the District, the SRC's leadership and, of course, our Council colleague Councilman Green taking on this enormous task. We have a plan, and Dr. Hite's plan 2.0 which sets a pathway to what could be good educational opportunities for all children. And we have a financial plan, which outlays the $320 million that Dr. Hite says can help us lead to a good path, not the best path but one that he feels strongly that he could steward.

Yesterday, in part thanks to the leadership of you, Council President, and Council and the Administration, we saw some positive great promise in the sale of the buildings, four buildings, that are going to sell for about $37 million and net the District 30 million. While it falls short of our goal for June 30th of 77 million, it is also great promise.

The last two years this Council has worked very hard to multi-task and tackle many issues - zoning reform, AVI, providing relief for homeowners, and every single time through your leadership, Council President, we have been up to the task.

Let me first start by saying that nothing, nothing can replace the funding formula that is so desperately needed and that must be done at the state level. Nothing that we do can replace that.

Nothing can replace the money that -- the federal money that we've lost through the stimulus package. And while Governor Corbett's proposal of $27 million is only a conversation starter, we need to engage in a real strong public debate around long-term, consistent, predictable funding for the School District.

I am pleased of this Council, my Council colleagues and this Council, for the constant leadership that we have provided in the last three years as it relates to this issue. I do not doubt for a minute that everyone in this Council is extremely committed to the children and to the future of Philadelphia and that we understand that school funding is a top priority.

This introduction is about keeping all of these options on the table, as we've done in every single debate around school education. This Council will continue to provide leadership. Council President, we look to you and your leadership as you continue to collaborate with our state colleagues and state government to ensure that we do what is necessary. Our children deserve nothing less. As the poverty numbers in the Pew study shows, ensuring that Philadelphia has a growing middle class is vitally important and lifting folks out of poverty should be a top priority.

Thank you, Council President.

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