Stand up for students
Unfortunately, the School District of Philadelphia is once again teetering over the edge of a new abyss. The uncertainty of whether or not the district can find the $216 million it needs to simply maintain its currently emaciated system is alarming. Dr. Hite, superintendent of the district, has made it clear that if he cannot secure additional funding, we will experience a new doomsday scenario, in which there will be a staggering round of about 1,000 new layoffs. In this scenario, classroom sizes on average would increase to 37:1 in primary schools and 40:1 in high schools — the limited numbers of counselors, librarians, school police, and support staff left in schools would once again be slashed to dangerous levels.
We need leadership, reform, and funding. We must free our students from being enslaved to our current state of mediocrity, and empower them to lead Philadelphia. Though our youth are often characterized by the violence that’s constantly being spotlighted by local media outlets, Philly’s youth have been one of few special interest groups to live up to the phrase “City of Brotherly Love.”
Luckily Philly, the city of many deficits, has a massive surplus of one key resource — talented students. We must put politics aside and the students first. I urge Mayor Nutter and City Council to stop making us fight this battle at home so we can take this fight for fair and adequate funding of our schools exclusively to Harrisburg. The city must act first in sending a clear and irrevocable message to the members of the Pennsylvania Legislature.
I believe the city should form a written commitment to sustain this additional $195 million of annual funding for at least the next three years, but the city’s commitment should be backed by specific and reasonably achievable reforms enacted by the School Reform Commission (SRC).
A key stipulation would be that should the SRC fail to enact the reforms outlined in the agreement (measured on a year-by-year basis), the SRC would vote to disband itself, which new SRC Chair Bill Green said he’s not opposed to doing. Recently, we have made commitments to local labor unions and other special interest groups. It’s time to make a similar commitment to our students.
Chairman, Philadelphia Youth Commission
PGW sale benefits city
The Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce joins a growing chorus of concerned citizens, business groups, social organizations and others in urging Philadelphia City Council to hold public hearings on the $1.86 billions deal to sell the Philadelphia Gas Works. The undersigned have taken the time to review the agreements with the New Haven-based UIL Holdings Corp., and from our perspective, it bolsters the financial future of the city.
As we understand it, upon completion of the sale, the city’s beleaguered employee pension fund will receive up to $600 million. This releases those dollars previously targeted for that fund so that City Council can more adequately fund public schools. Moreover, UIL has promised to replace antiquated infrastructure twice as fast as PGW can, resulting in more construction jobs and a higher level of public safety.
We acknowledge Council President Darrell Clarke’s position to wait for a consultant’s report before formally discussing the issue, but in lieu of the mystery surrounding an alleged July 15 deadline for UIL to walk away from the deal, we believe that the time is now to discuss the issue in public.
Philadelphia is the last major American city to own a natural gas company. At the very least, taxpayers deserve a public airing of the issue and City Council has a duty to provide that forum.
Kent C. Lufkin, Al Taubenberger
Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce
Trash fines are unfair
I recently received a $50 fine for my backyard not being “trash free.” There were five pieces of trash in the upper corner. There is room for multiple pictures on the ticket, yet the rest of the yard had no trash so they couldn’t take a second picture. Unlike when CLIP comes around and cuts peoples’ lawns after fining them, they didn’t pick up the trash.
The fine came on a Monday, but our trash day is Thursday. One of the other things they can fine you for is putting out trash before 7 p.m. on Wednesday, so why would they come around on a Monday?
I documented trash being blown over from across the driveway yet again during a recent rainy, windy day. How are the elderly supposed to keep after it when some don’t even go down to the basement? If there is a windy day I feel compelled to stay home.
I’ve contacted the mayor and Bobby Henon — neither responded. There is no way to keep a yard “trash free” 24-7-365, but that is expected.