The leader of the Philadelphia School District - along with the heads of the unions that represent teachers, principals and blue-collar employees - yesterday demanded that the Philadelphia Parking Authority turn over the millions of dollars it has promised to city schools.
"They're remarkably efficient, as witnessed by their rising revenue," the district's interim chief executive, Tom Brady, said from Nashville, Tenn., where he is attending an education conference. "I think the children of Philadelphia should share in their efficiency, and they should live up to the commitment made some time ago."
The officials' united front is just the latest assault on the Parking Authority since a Daily News article last week detailed how the authority had turned over only $4 million of a promised $20 million, despite its own payroll doubling since the state took control of the authority in 2001.
Following the report, Gov. Rendell and Parents United for Public Education blasted the authority and demanded that the money be forked over to the cash-strapped district.
A Daily News call to Linda Miller, the authority's spokeswoman, was not returned yesterday.
In 2004 the agency promised that through efficiency it would be able to give $20 million to the schools over the coming years. That year the schools received $4 million. But since then not a dime more has been sent despite booming revenues.
Brady said the district has included $4 million from the authority in its budget and also in the deficit-reduction plan it submitted to the state earlier this month. The money is needed to avoid cutting school programs, he said.
Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, said: "Philadelphia's youngsters need high-quality, early-childhood-education programs, smaller classes, access to art and music taught by qualified teachers and a variety of high-school programs that prepare them for jobs and college.
"These initiatives cost money, and for lack of it many of Philadelphia's children are denied access to essential components of a high-quality education."
Mike Lerner, business agent of the Commonwealth Association of School Administrators, said: "The principals and teachers have been asked to do more with less for too long, and still they have been able to deliver the testing gains we have seen over the past five years.
"It would be a major setback for the children we serve if these gains were not sustained, and built upon, due to a lack of adequate funding. The PPA must now step up and deliver what was promised."
Said George Ricchezza, head of Local 1201, which represents district blue-collar workers: "The additional funding could provide training and apprentice programs for graduating students."
The district also corrected information the Parking Authority released this week. The district has 295 employees making more than $100,000, not 299 as stated by the authority, said Amy Guerin, a district spokeswoman.
That's 1.2 percent of the district's workforce of 24,775. Guerin said 142 of the highest-paid employees are principals or assistant principals.
"We have lawyers, Ph.D.'s, medical doctors. We employ a large number of highly educated people around here," said Guerin, who is also a lawyer. *