Got money? Help a Philadelphia school afford workbooks, paper, and other educational materials.
That was the pitch from Mayor Nutter, who announced the formation Wednesday of the Philadelphia Education Supplies Fund to raise money for the cash-strapped Philadelphia School District as well as the city's charter and Catholic schools.
"This is a great opportunity to support children in the city," Nutter said at a City Hall news conference. "I've heard from so many people who are interested in helping and getting involved in education for children."
The goal is to raise $500,000 by Oct. 15 and $2.5 million over five years, Nutter said. The city is kicking in $200,000 from its general fund to start the effort, with a promise of $1 million over five years, he said.
At the same news conference, it was announced that the West Conshohocken-based Maguire Foundation, which supports education in the region, has promised to give $100,000 during five years.
The fund will be administered by the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. To donate, go to www.Unitedforimpact.org/teachersupplies.
"Everyone can do something," Nutter said, calling on nonprofits, businesses, and the philanthropic community to participate. "I'll take $5."
Avi Shenkar heard the announcement Wednesday morning and decided to act. Founder and CEO of Blo/Out Blow Dry Bar, with hair salons in Rittenhouse Square, Willow Grove, and Atlantic City, he said his company would donate $30 from every "Mommy and Me" blow-dry service from now until Oct. 15. The hairstyling service for a mother and child costs $60.
"I realize we have the ability and obligation to do what we can," Shenkar said.
Nutter said the fund would be especially important later in the school year as supplies such as basic as books and paper run low. Lack of supplies has been a long-standing struggle for schools even before the latest budget crisis, he said.
"Even in the best times, there were challenges to make sure there were enough supplies at every school," agreed Philadelphia schools Superintendent William R. Hite Jr., speaking of his past experience as a teacher, principal, and administrator elsewhere.
District teachers receive $100 a year for supplies, Hite said. But he recently talked with a teacher who spent that allotment getting supplies for the start of school.
Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, said in a statement that while he was pleased by the city's new fund, it doesn't mitigate the loss of counselors, teachers, and aides in district schools.
The 134,000-student district opened Monday with less staff and resources as it continues to cope with a deficit. The district is seeking $133 million in givebacks from its unions to help close the gap. Negotiations are continuing with Jordan's union and others.
"In schools with only one secretary, registering students has been impossible. There are classrooms with 45, 50 and even 60 students," Jordan said. He said the fund provides a convenient way "to make much-needed contributions. But the School District and its teachers should not be in the position of depending solely on charity to buy pencils and paper for schoolchildren."
Nutter said the money's distribution will be worked out by United Way, the district, charter schools, and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. "Let's see what the requests are, what the needs are," he said.
The mayor's goal is $500,000 by the middle of October. B5 EndText