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Schools Ask for $$$, Council Grills Ackerman

The City Council hearing on providing additional funding for the School District is well underway and Superintendent Arlene Ackerman is in the hot seat as she continues her pitch for more dough.

Ackerman is asking Council for $102 million in additional funding to restore cuts to yellow buses, early childhood education, reduced class sizes, art and music programs and several other priorities. The city is currently set to provide $815 million in tax revenue and grant funding to the District for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Ackerman told Council that 200,000 school children needed their support. Without further funding from the city or state, the district faces a $629 million funding gap in the next fiscal year. Mayor Nutter supports Ackerman's request.

"The truth is, members of City Council, the children of Philadelphia need you. We realize the decisions about how you bring us add funding will require making tough choices," Ackerman said.

But Ackerman has faced some tough questions from Council about her funding priorities, including maintaining upwards of $20 million in funding for an 18-day summer school program.

"It would seem to me that smaller class size is a lot more important to the long term development of these children than a... summer program," said Councilman Jim Kenney.