Parents Meet With Council President Over School Funding

Parents Meet With Council President Over School Funding

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PHILADELPHIA -

The hour-long, closed-door meeting with city council president Darrell Clarke gave parents a chance to vent their frustration over what they see as an impending education disaster.

"We're on a countdown to public schools opening in the most chaotic, unsafe conditions that we have ever seen them in," says Helen Gym, of Parents United For Public Education. "145,000 children are going to show up for school on September 9th and they deserve a place that's safe, open, warm, caring and ready. And we don't have that right now."

Without a big infusion of fast cash, school district officials say classes will begin September 9th with far fewer teachers and far fewer programs than they'd like. Many locals blame the state for inadequate funding. But with help from Harrisburg unlikely, at least in the short term, parents are bending the ears of city leaders to plug the budget hole. So, did Clarke offer any concrete answers?

"As I understand it, the council president is working on it. We don't have any facts yet. I think it's a hard position for you to be in. but we are counting on the council president, the mayor, the governor, everyone, to put their heads together and come up with a plan," says Shanee Garner, of Public Citizens For Children & Youth.

Among those who met with the council president, a frustrated Anissa Weinraub, a seven year teaching veteran who was laid off in the budget crunch.

"It's an impossible situation for those schools to open and there to be a modicum of safety for those kids- and structure," she says. "It really is going to be a dangerous and chaotic environment...I feel heartbroken that I can't be there opening day with my students."

Despite the lack of specific answers, those in attendance today gave the council president credit for meeting with them face-to-face. In a statement to us late this afternoon, Clarke said he will continue to work with parents and teachers as well as state and local officials to ensure Philly schools can educate kids and keep them safe, come September 9th. That will be a tall order.

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