Gun violence is profoundly affecting the Philadelphia School District, and more help is required to keep students safe and help them cope with collateral damage, officials told City Council on Wednesday.

So far this year, 96 people between the ages of 13 and 19 have been shot in Philadelphia. Twelve under the age of 18 have been murdered in 2022.

School board member Reginald Streater asked for city support increasing safe corridors around schools during arrival and dismissal times; keeping school buildings open after classes finish, on weekends and during the summer; creating safety zones and enforcing gun laws; and expanding mental health services, including supports for employees. He also wants to create a mental health “service corps” with public money for training, scholarships, and loan forgiveness for those who commit to working with Philadelphians hurt by gun violence and trauma.

“The critical point that I would like to make is that if we want our children to learn, thrive, and succeed, then we must ensure they are safe and physically and emotionally healthy, so they are ready to learn,” Streater said during the hearing on the school district’s $3.9 billion budget. “And we hope you will support our efforts to safeguard our children and help them realize their fullest potential in life.”

Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. echoed the point, saying the district wants “to keep our buildings open as much as possible, to be used by as many individuals as possible.” He added that the city “should be thinking about all assets — not just schools — and how do we get those open.” (City recreation centers and libraries are often closed at night and on the weekends, too.)

The school board also asked for city help recruiting teachers and other school staff by offering affordable housing and rentals, subsidized transportation, and guaranteed parking. Denver schools have lured workers with subsidized housing down payments, and the Santa Clara Unified School District in California has made affordable apartments available. Streater also suggested offering SEPTA passes or temporary parking permits near school buildings during the school day as a way to help the district fill key vacancies and retain employees.

“Such incentives would be meaningful to our staff members who live and work in our school communities, and who may struggle with the costs of housing and transportation,” Streater said.

City Council President Darrell L. Clarke said those sounded like good ideas and underscored the connection between student safety and student achievement — but he made no promises.

He said he was particularly interested in discussions about the use of school buildings by community groups outside of school hours.

But such a proposal would cost money, and require coordination. The district’s union agreement requires at least one staff member present when a building is opened to anyone, and after-school hours or on a weekend requires overtime pay. Hite said the district was working on a proposal to identify a set of buildings around the city that could be kept open for general community use during non-school hours, though the funding and coordination around that remains unclear.

Clarke said it was important that the city and district focused on “the taxpayers, and we get out of that silo where, ‘This is my building.’”

The SEPTA ask needs to be taken up with SEPTA, Clarke said, and as for the parking idea, “good luck with that one, particularly in neighborhoods. I’d be interested to see how you make out with that one in conversations with the Parking Authority and local residents.”

Philadelphia is alone among Pennsylvania districts as unable to raise its own revenue; along with the state, City Council controls the school system’s purse strings. The district’s annual budget hearing can be tense, and Wednesday’s fell into that category at points.

District officials are projecting a 3,900-student enrollment loss for the 2022-23 school year, which means 350 fewer classroom teachers. Chief financial officer Uri Monson pointed out that Philadelphia’s projected enrollment decline is less than other districts’ across the state, but Councilmember Helen Gym said she had “deep, deep concerns” about those projections.

“It is our responsibility to win our families back, to do everything that we can to engage and to bring them there,” Gym said. She said the enrollment slide constitutes an “existential crisis” and she worries that it could lead to school closings.

District officials said they had teams working on reengagement and would continue to press the issue. Gym asked for an accounting of where students who have left the district have gone, and a detailed reengagement strategy.

Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson expressed frustration over difficulties registering her own child for district kindergarten. Instead of the school physically closest to her home, Gilmore Richardson’s home is zoned for a Renaissance charter school — a district school run by a charter company. Richardson wants her child to attend the district school but cannot register the child for that school online.

“I apologize for my anger, but I am sick of the School District of Philadelphia. This should not be this hard to enroll our young people in our closest local public school, then you come here and complain that you have no money. I don’t want to hear it. I want to hear how this will be fixed today,” Gilmore Richardson said, adding that if a public official is having this issue, many more parents likely are too, potentially hurting district enrollment.

School officials said that for children living in Gilmore Richardson’s area to be able to register online for the district school closest to them, school boundaries would need to change, a process they were unwilling to entertain during the pandemic. That process will now play out during the district’s facilities planning process, they said.

The hit ABC comedy Abbott Elementary, about a fictional Philadelphia public school in a dysfunctional, broke district, even came up at the hearing.

Councilmember Cindy Bass said she enjoys the show but finds it funny in the way you laugh at someone tripping.

“It really ... puts light on the School District of Philadelphia and how money is spent, things are done,” Bass said. “I really want us to do better, be better, get better. I know that standing as a partner is a true way to see that happen.”

City Council members said they would call district officials back for more questioning at a hearing still to be scheduled.