Touring a North Philadelphia elementary school Friday, Gov. Wolf pushed again for a Pennsylvania budget that will pump millions of dollars in new money into city schools.
At Hunter School, Wolf said he was impressed by kindergartners whizzing through reading lessons on laptops and second graders determinedly puzzling over math exercises.
"You're doing a great job here in Philadelphia with, in many cases, too few resources," Wolf told a panel that included Mayor Nutter and School Superintendent William R. Hite Jr.
Wolf has been touring schools around the state to promote his budget proposal, which would provide $159 million in new basic-education funding to Philadelphia and millions more to districts across the state.
The proposal has been met with resistance from lawmakers in Harrisburg, but Wolf said he wanted to stress that investing in Philadelphia does not just benefit the city.
"What's going on in this school is really important for everyone in Pennsylvania," he said.
Wolf wants to raise the money in part by taxing the extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale.
The trip to Hunter was Wolf's second visit to a Philadelphia school in as many months - a marked difference from his predecessor, Tom Corbett, who visited no district schools during his four years as governor.
Hunter principal Alberto Rivera said the school badly needed the cash Wolf proposed. Asked what he would do with an infusion of funds, Rivera looked around the bright, book-lined room where the dignitaries gathered.
"A state-of-the-art library like this and we don't have a librarian," Rivera said. Both classrooms Wolf visited have too many children, he said, and he needs more aides to help monitor student behavior.
Teacher Erin Furlong said she dreams of extra instructional support for her second graders, many of whom struggle to read.
Wolf was impressed with her classroom, where perfectly behaved students carried out a measurement exercise as visitors watched. He asked Furlong how she obtained all of the supplies in her room.
"Everything that wasn't curriculum - books in my classroom - I paid for," Furlong said. She estimates she spent about $2,000 out of her own pocket this year.
Wolf's proposed increase to Philadelphia schools, coupled with an additional $105 million suggested by Nutter via a property-tax increase, would give Hite the sort of budget he's never seen as city superintendent.
The superintendent said he would turn over new funds to principals to use as they see fit, for additional teachers, counselors, nurses, Advanced Placement classes, and technology.
Nutter said he understood City Council's reluctance to raise taxes, but believes the move is necessary.
"We need to advance this conversation beyond filling deficits, and talk about investments," Nutter said.