This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
UPDATE: The Notebook contacted BRT spokesperson Kevin Feeley this afternoon, who confirmed that the School District has "funding authority" over the 80 BRT clerks scheduled into the SRC payroll. When asked what would happen if the District chose to eliminate funding for the BRT positions, Feeley responded: "If there is no funding then there is no funding." – Public School Notebook (5:36 p.m.)
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Mayor Nutter today said that the decision about the BRT salaries on the School District payroll is a decision that he doesn’t control. In a press conference this morning, the mayor said that he and city administration are in talks with the District about how to address the BRT situation at the School District – a campaign that Parents United for Public Education has been working on for a year. But the final decision will rest with the District, according to the Mayor.
The Mayor’s statement puts the SRC on the hot seat to make a decision on the BRT, which is budgeted in for FY2010 at $4.56 million. This year the BRT received a 17% increase from last year and receives a nominal increase for 2010.
Meanwhile, SRC Chair Robert Archie issued a bland statement yesterday about the BRT situation saying they are reviewing it and will "pursue whatever action is in the best interest of children.”
One suggestion for Mr. Archie: When 80 employees you pay salaries for are written about in a three-part investigative series on corruption and waste while they utilize school funds for the most politicized hires AND when a former CEO blames a previous SRC commissioner for blocking his request to deny the funds while that active SRC commissioner has a consulting contract with said agency SOMETHING stronger than "best interest of the children" needs to be said. A little outrage and shock should be in order.
Take a cue from City Council and the media, for example, some of whom are calling for the BRT to be abolished, or the Mayor calling for the resignation of the entire BRT board.
Spending $4.56 million of discretionary education funds on 80 politicized and tainted employees for a corrupt agency like the BRT is just not in the best interest of children – and someone from the SRC and District, if it’s not Mr. Archie, should be saying so.