By Mike DeNardo
On July 31, 2023
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Pennsylvania House Democrats were in South Philadelphia Monday afternoon kicking off a “Save Our Schools” campaign.
The House Democratic Policy Committee’s first stop on the campaign was a sweltering tour of the aging boiler room at South Philadelphia High School in Lower Moyamensing. Teacher William Sax, a Philadelphia Federation of Teachers building representative, told the lawmakers it’s like this all the time.
“You thought it was bad for a couple of minutes here — we come here every day.”
He added that, because of the aging HVAC system, you never know what it’s going to feel like — half of the building’s warm, half of the building’s freezing.
The campaign is an attempt to urge the Senate to fund schools by passing the state budget.
Democrats are urging Senate Republicans to break the current impasse and pass a budget that would fund improvements for school buildings.
Republicans are holding out for a $100 million program that would pay for children to attend private schools.
House Majority Leader Matt Bradford of Montgomery County questioned the logic.
“When they take the 1% of kids … out of schools like this, what are they going to do with the 99% of kids that are left behind in these buildings?”
Allentown Representative Pete Schweyer, who chairs the education committee, says with a Commonwealth Court ruling declaring the state’s school funding unconstitutional, schools have to be adequately funded before that debate can begin.
“Before we start taking a nickel away of funding for our public schools, we need to invest in them first. If they want to have a conversation once we’re fully funded, we’re willing to have a conversation once they’re fully funded.”
A statement from House Republicans called the Democratic tour a “war on school choice options” saying, instead of saving schools, Democrats should focus on saving students.
This piece was republished from the Audacy.