Uncertainty is the dominant mode at the School District of Philadelphia these days. The latest development, a delay in General Assembly action to allow Philadelphia to enact a cigarette tax funding stream that City Council unanimously approved in June 2013, is just one in a seemingly neverending series of devastating setbacks.

It could be tempting to find excuses to give up on our schools. Indeed, that might even be the point of what appears to be a coordinated, nationwide attack on public institutions. However, there also are those who believe the School District of Philadelphia can succeed if given appropriate resources, but who see no point in taking action until Election Day on Nov. 4 because of the current political climate in Pennsylvania.

With all due respect, this is ill-advised. To have any chance of securing what is right and fair for our students, we cannot agree to delays, and we can never give up on fighting for them.

Since meeting with parents, teachers, and advocates when the School District entered full-blown fiscal crisis last spring, City Council has explored education models that are seeing positive results in districts demographically similar to ours. Thursday, Council's Committee on Education is scheduled to hear expert testimony on School-Based Family Services (SBFS) Centers, which revolve around the health and wellness of the child along with academic performance.

This comprehensive approach acknowledges that poverty is Philadelphia's No. 1 problem. We cannot fix our schools without addressing what ails our children at home.

Too many School District children enter the classroom saddled with problems such as housing and food insecurity, exposure to violence, family instability, and neighborhood decay. Even if the district were to receive the proceeds from an increased Philadelphia cigarette tax and more today, the safety and wellness challenges facing many of our students would remain.

The SBFS model seeks to address this problem by offering wraparound social services for children, parents, and guardians in or near schools. Districts across the country are attempting to restructure their services in similar ways, and we hope to learn from them. City Council welcomes input from members of the School District community and beyond on how to improve educational outcomes with the resources our schools currently have and with the resources our schools deserve.

It was a little more than two decades ago that Philadelphia teetered on the brink of bankruptcy and required a state bailout. The Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA) was created to ensure oversight of the city's finances, which today are relatively healthy. Based on that model, I will continue to ask members of the General Assembly to support the creation of a similar oversight board for the School District. Such an entity would give us all confidence that precious resources are being spent wisely.

But this step alone will not ensure success for our students and fiscal stability for the School District. Therefore, we in city government should embrace the challenge of fighting fires on multiple fronts, just as so many of our wonderful educators in inadequately resourced schools do. We can fight for reliable school funding, seek greater accountability from the School District, and continue to strive to improve educational outcomes. We can do all of these things at once. In fact, we must because we understand that the Philadelphia cigarette tax alone will not fix our schools.

Our schools cannot be saved until there is adequate, predictable long-term funding in place. That means a weighted, fair funding formula for all public schools in the commonwealth and restoration of reimbursement for charter school expenses for all districts.

Years of disinvestment cannot be reversed by simply putting back into the budget what was taken away. To undo the damage of just one year of skeletal staffing and resources will require years of triage involving additional funding, long-term budgeting solutions, greater participation in schools by our business and higher education communities, and more focused attention from all of the disparate agencies and offices that serve families in distress.

Our mission is clear. We must fight until we get what's fair for our schools and our children. Simply waiting for others to act, or for Election Day, would be an abdication of responsibility to the city's students.