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City Council not a part of Mayor Nutter's rally to support school funding

Mayor Nutter and state elected officials will rally in support of additional funding for the city's cash-poor School District Thursday morning, but some City Council members wondered why they were left out of the loop and whether a plan to raise money would be revealed at the event.

According to a source, Nutter will not be presenting a plan for funding the schools at the rally which will be held at the Andrew Jackson Public School in South Philly. A press release states that Nutter and members of the Philadelphia delegation will announce their support for extra money and will call on the city and state to step in.

The School Reform Commission told Council last week they need $120 million from the state, $60 million from the city and $133 million in savings from personnel-contract negotiations to help close a $304 million budget shortfall.

"I'm a little confused about what they're going to suggest we do," said Councilman Mark Squilla, who represents the 1st district where the rally will be held, adding he was unaware of the event until a school official asked him about it. "What good is that going to do to have a press conference to say we support funding, but no solution on how to do it?"

Adminsitration officials have said they would submit a plan to Council soon. Nutter said he does not support raising the extra money in property-taxes, but he does support increasing the liquor-by-the-drink tax which would bring in around $20 million.

Council members also took issue with the timing of the event set for 10:15 a.m., just 15 minutes shy of when Council is set to begin its weekly session.

"I'm encouraged [Mayor Nutter is] stepping up and saying he wants to support schools," said Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez, adding but "it's lost opportunity at a time when there needs to be some visible unity."

Meanwhile Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, chair of Council's education committee noted the Mayor could do what he wants and thought perhaps Nutter is looking to send a message to Council. (Council president Darrell Clarke has said there would be no appetite to aid the school district if the state does not step in.)

"Perhaps [Nutter] is trying to influence us," Blackwell said, noting the timing, "The Mayor knows we're in Council."

Mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald said Clarke was apart of the discussions and planning leading to tomorrows event. He said the date could have been changed, adding it was when mostly everyone was available.

"The Council president was fully informed," McDonald said. "[Clarke] was apart of the initial discussion, but he apparently is not participating."

Clarke's spokeswoman Jane Roh, said Clarke was invited, but "he has a Council session to lead."