Annual Certification under Section 7201-B(e) of the Tax Reform Code
[44 Pa.B. 5493]
[Saturday, August 16, 2014]
August 6, 2014
William R. Hite, Jr., Ed.D.
School District of Philadelphia
440 North Broad Street, Suite 301
Philadelphia, PA 19130
I am writing pursuant to Section 7201-B(e) of the Tax Reform Code, Act 52 of 2013, 72 P. S. § 7201-B(e). That section provides that a city of the first class may impose a one percent sales and use tax that may be used by a school district of the first class in an amount up to $120,000,000. Effective July 1, 2014, the City of Philadelphia has imposed this additional sales and use tax. However, the use of these funds by the School District of Philadelphia must be authorized by the Secretary of Education.
Pursuant to Section 7201-B(e)(1), as Secretary of Education, I am to consider whether ''the school district . . . began implementation of reforms that provide for [the district's] fiscal stability, educational improvement and operational control.'' In my judgment, the School District of Philadelphia has begun implementation of such reforms in all three areas described in the statute.
From a fiscal standpoint, the District continues to make the kinds of changes that are necessary to establish long-term fiscal stability. The District has negotiated a new, three-year contract with the administrators' union that will generate over $20 million in savings. The District has also pursued the sale of many surplus and unused school buildings, which could generate over $30 million. The District has also undertaken other reforms to reduce costs and increase efficiency. This includes the creation of the Office of Strategic Partnerships, which has raised funds and improved the capacity to access and utilize financial and in-kind support for schools. There have also been changes and improvement to transportation policies and the procurement process to reduce costs and increase efficiency.
Several new programs and initiatives demonstrate that the District continues to make key changes that improve its operational control, while simultaneously maximizing the educational improvement opportunities for students:
• The District released an action plan describing its vision for the District, which includes: 100% of students graduating, ready for college and career; 100% of 8-year-olds reading on grade level; 100% of schools with great principals and great teachers; and all the revenue the District needs with zero deficit. The action plan includes strategies and tactics for achieving these laudable goals.
• The District launched the School Redesign Initiative, which calls upon teachers, school leaders, families, community groups, and others to work together to redesign schools to meet the needs of 21st century learning.
• The District implemented the Authorizer Quality Initiative, a set of new charter school authorizing policies, standards, and procedures.
• The District has focused on improving career and college readiness. As part of this effort, the District will open three neighborhood-based high schools this fall, all of which focus on college and career readiness, student resiliency, and personalized learning. The District also created career academies at Roxborough and Lincoln High Schools to better connect students with pathways to higher education and the workplace. Additionally, the District has partnered with the Community College of Philadelphia to develop a dual enrollment program to enable students to experience college-level coursework and earn college credits.
• The District has also focused on improving early learning. The District has spearheaded an early literacy campaign, in conjunction with external partners, to help meet the goal of all 8-year-olds reading at grade level.
• The District further expanded its student-focused approach to the staff assignment and transfer process and redesigned its principal selection process to attract outstanding leaders.
• The District debuted the School Progress Report, a new tool that looks at all the schools on multiple dimensions and is designed to help support, respond to, and improve schools.
Finally, in an effort to be more transparent with its finances, the District posted all of its budget information, including details about outside contracts and employee salaries online in conjunction with the City of Philadelphia's Open Data initiative.
As a result of the foregoing, I hereby certify that the requisites of Section 7201-B(e) of the Tax Reform Code have been satisfied. I authorize the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue to disburse to the District, on or before the tenth day of every month, the total amount of money contained in the Local Sales and Use Tax Fund as of the last day of the previous month up to a maximum of $120,000,000 pursuant to section 7201-B(e)(2) of the Tax Reform Code.
CAROLYN C. DUMARESQ, Ed.D.,
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 14-1741. Filed for public inspection August 15, 2014, 9:00 a.m.]
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