PSP Executive Director Mark Gleason issued the following statement today in response to the vote of the SRC to require the PFT to contribute to the cost of their healthcare:
“We know from our work investing $35 million in Philadelphia schools, including more than $12 million in district schools, that adequate and stable funding is one of the crucial requirements for great schools to thrive. That’s why we advocated for passage of the cigarette tax and it’s why we are members of the statewide campaign for fair education funding.
“But the hard truth is that healthcare represents one of the fastest-rising costs in education, and there can be no real solution to school funding issues without controlling healthcare costs.
“Today, after nearly two years of negotiations with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, the School Reform Commission made the difficult decision to address these issues by requiring PFT members to contribute to the cost of their healthcare.
“The SRC did not impose wage cuts or layoffs, though all sides acknowledge that our public school children are in critical need of additional funding. Instead, the SRC chose the fairest and least onerous option among a range of hard choices: requiring the PFT members to join the ranks of teachers, other union employees, and workers across the Commonwealth and the nation who already contribute a portion of their healthcare costs.
“Today’s action will ensure that more money is available to improve our schools, hire new staff, and meet the educational needs of students.
“No one should be surprised at the SRC’s decision to take this necessary step, especially since the SRC has said publicly on many occasions over the last several months that if the PFT refused to make progress on this issue in contract negotiations, it would be forced to act unilaterally to close the funding gap that has plagued our schools for years.
“We applaud the SRC and Superintendent Hite for acting to improve opportunities for public school children in Philadelphia, and we urge the public to support today’s action as a necessary and fair solution that puts the District at last on the road to fiscal stability.”