Sen. Vincent J. Fumo

District Office

1208 Tasker Street
Phila, PA 19148

Harrisburg Office

545 Main Capitol
Hbg, PA 17120



________________NEWS RELEASE
State Senator

1st Senatorial District
Democratic Appropriations Committee Chairman
Room 545 Main Capitol, Harrisburg PA 17120
Internet Website:

PHONE: 717-787-5662


          HARRISBURG, April 11, 2000 – State Senator Vincent J. Fumo and State Representative Dwight Evans, the Democratic chairs of the respective Senate and House Appropriations Committees, sent the attached letter to the Philadelphia School Board yesterday, in reaction to the Board adopting a financial statement on March 31.



April 10, 2000


Pedro A. Ramos Esq., President
Board of Education
School District of Philadelphia
21st Street and the Parkway
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Dear Mr. Ramos,

It was with great disappointment that we read recently the preliminary lump-sum budget that the School Board adopted. Whatever the shortcomings of our current system of funding -- and we agree there are many -- the Board has a responsibility to provide for the educational services of the children of Philadelphia using available resources. To approve even a preliminary budget that contains an operating deficit in the hundreds of millions of dollars is to take unacceptable risks with the future of the children of the Philadelphia School District. 

While we can readily understand the frustration you and other Board members feel at being unable to obtain what you regard as an adequate amount of money, it is your duty to adopt a balanced budget. We have long argued that Pennsylvania should revise its system of educational funding, but we can assure you that until there is a dramatic shift in the balance of political power in Harrisburg, such changes are unlikely.  

As long as Republicans control the General Assembly and the Governor’s Office, equitable education funding will be low on the agenda in Harrisburg. If Philadelphia School Board members believe that precipitating a financial crisis is the answer to the School District’s problems, we must tell you that you cannot play chicken with the Ridge Administration and Republican legislative leaders. They will not come to your aid with substantially more money, nor will they ride to your rescue by assuming control of the school district, their threats to do so notwithstanding. The last thing they want is to be actually held responsible for the quality of education in Philadelphia.

We have seen them pursue their conservative fiscal policies without compassion before. We have seen them deny health care coverage to hundreds of thousands of low-income Pennsylvanians in the same year they accumulated a surplus of more than half a billion dollars. We have seen them raise the gasoline tax paid mainly by working men and women while cutting taxes for large corporations. We have seen them shrink rather than increase the percentage of total education funding in Pennsylvania that is supplied by the state government.

The state provides approximately 57 percent of total cost of educating Philadelphia public school children. Although we may not fully agree with their reasoning, we recognize that legislators from elsewhere in the state are not inclined to increase funding to Philadelphia alone when school districts which they represent receive a much smaller percentage.

We remain ready to help in whatever way we can in Harrisburg, but we must implore you to be aware of the political realities. The current leaders of our state government regard the financial plight of our School District as a Philadelphia problem. It will require a Philadelphia solution.


VINCENT J. FUMO                                        DWIGHT EVANS
StateSenator                                                    State RepresentativeSenate Democratic Appropriations Chair                                     House Democratic Appropriations Chair


cc: Members of the Philadelphia School Board

Copyright 2000 Sen. Vincent J. Fumo