Annual Certification under Section 7201-B(e) of the Tax Reform Code
[45 Pa.B. 7298]
[Saturday, December 26, 2015]
December 14, 2015
William R. Hite, Jr., Ed.D.
School District of Philadelphia
440 North Broad Street, Suite 301
Philadelphia, PA 19130
I am writing pursuant to Section 7201-B(e) of the Tax Reform Code, Act 52 of 2013, 72 P. S. § 7201-B(e), which provides that a city of the first class may impose a one percent sales and use tax that may be used by a school district of the first class in an amount up to $120,000,000. Effective July 1, 2014, the City of Philadelphia has imposed this additional sales and use tax. However, the use of these funds by the School District of Philadelphia (''District'') must be authorized by the Secretary of Education.
Pursuant to Section 7201-B(e)(1), as Secretary of Education, I must consider whether ''the school district . . . began implementation of reforms that provide for [the District's] fiscal stability, educational improvement and operational control.'' In my judgment, the District has begun implementation of such reforms in all three areas described in the statute.
According to the District, it is implementing new programs and initiatives to increase the range and quality of educational options available to students, including:
• Releasing in March 2015 the School District of Philadelphia Action Plan 3.0, a strategic plan to transform schools and improve student achievement;
• Redesigning the work of the senior leadership team to become more responsive to schools;
• Placing early literacy specialists in 39 elementary schools with low 3rd grade PSSA readings scores, and providing intensive literacy training for 60 principals;
• Purchasing an online literacy assessment for K-5 teachers to identify students struggling with foundational literacy skills, with baseline administration citywide in Spring 2015;
• Implementing ''Naviance,'' an online college and career planning platform for every middle and high school, which is supported by local philanthropy;
• Constructing a new dental assistant lab at Kensington Health Sciences and an Advanced Manufacturing Center at Ben Franklin High School to prepare students for job readiness and providing 1,800 students district-wide with career and technical education credentials and 3,500 certifications;
• Placing 57 school-based bilingual counseling assistants in schools throughout the District that have a large English Language Learners population;
• Increasing acceptance into high-performing schools and increasing the number of students participating in the school selection process by automating the process and aligning the budget calendar;
• Achieving over 13,000 users visiting the new suite of standards-aligned curriculum tools;
• Establishing 32 additional school advisory councils throughout the learning networks;
• Implementing a coordinated effort so that all District schools and 75 percent of charter schools are on the same school performance measure report;
• Continuing programs that were implemented in the prior year, including reissuing a school redesign initiative and executing an intense series of decisions around school performance and providing access to high quality education through the District's system of great schools process.
The District has also reported that additional steps have been taken to improve operational controls and to create fiscal stability, including:
• Ending the 2014-15 fiscal year with a positive fund balance and having a clean audit with no material findings;
• Implementing a massive debt refinancing that saved millions of dollars spread across fiscal years to contribute to long-term fiscal stability;
• Conducting eight community budget meetings to provide information about the District's 2015-16 school year budget requests;
• Receiving $10 million in additional private philanthropic dollars to provide additional teacher training/coaching and purchase supplemental instructional materials in literacy for all K-3 teachers over the next three years;
• Negotiating a new contract with the food service workers and school climate staff union that will generate over $5 million in savings;
• Increasing the number of positive behavior and intervention schools from 16 to 24 through a $3.5 million federal grant;
• Participating as ''one of the firsts'' in the community eligibility program through USDA, which allows the District to provide free daily breakfast and lunch meals to every student;
• Working with a new Inspector General to promote the value of integrity and ethical, responsible execution of public service;
• Continuing the practice of posting all of the District's budget information online;
• Undertaking other reforms to reduce costs and increase efficiency, including improvements to the procurement process and contract management.
As a result of the foregoing reforms documented by the District, I hereby certify that the requisites of Section 7201-B(e) of the Tax Reform Code have been satisfied. I authorize the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue to disburse to the District, on or before the tenth day of every month, the total amount of money contained in the Local Sales and Use Tax Fund as of the last day of the previous month up to a maximum of $120,000,000 pursuant to section 7201-B(e)(2) of the Tax Reform Code.
PEDRO A. RIVERA,
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 15-2278. Filed for public inspection December 24, 2015, 9:00 a.m.]
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