City Council: Education and Water Hike Hearing Resolutions Proposed

Jones, Gilmore Richardson Introduce Education Hearing Resolutions

On the heels of Tuesday’s Education hearing, Councilmember Curtis Jones introduced four resolutions authorizing the Education Committee to hold hearings.

The first resolution authorizes the committee to hold a hearing examining pandemic-related learning loss among School District of Philadelphia students.

The resolution highlights the lack of technical infrastructure some students faced when transitioning to virtual learning and how students with individual education plans struggled without the added support to which they were accustomed.

Citing an article published in the Philadelphia Tribune, the resolution states “current 4th graders in Philadelphia had an average math score of 209. This is eight points lower than the 2019 average.”

The second resolution authorizes the Education Committee to examine the top-performing magnet schools in the city, “understand their strengths in relationship to underperforming schools, and develop strategies for future success.”

The resolution cites two schools, Central High School and the Science Leadership Academy at Beeber, as successful examples of the magnet school system. The hearing will examine the strengths of these schools and explore how to provide needed resources to under-acheiving magnet schools.

The third resolution authorizes the Education Committee to hold hearings to “evaluate tracking for post-graduation pathways including college retention rates, career alternatives, military opportunities, and the school-to-prison pipeline.”

The fourth resolution authorizes the Education Committee to hold hearings to “examine the progress of the school safe corridor program, to understand its effect on violence reduction.”

As stated in the resolution, this program is similar to a town watch “where volunteers provide extra supervision for students traveling to and from their classes.”

The resolution makes mention of the issues facing certain schools in the city, referencing the death of a Roxborough High School football player in September of 2022 and the numerous shootings of students on their way to school.

Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson also introduced a resolution authorizing the Education Committee to hold a hearing, focusing on the “creation of the 21st Century School District of Philadelphia CTE middle and high school focused on careers in trades and technology.”

The resolution offers numerous facts about the benefits of CTE education, the potential job opportunities, and the long-term financial incentives CTE of which students can avail themselves. According to the US Department of Education, CTE students had a higher median salary than those who did not have a CTE focus.

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Johnson Proposes Water Rate Hearing

Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson, chair of the Committee on Transportation and Public Utilities, introduced a resolution to authorize the committee to hold hearings examining the Philadelphia Water Department’s proposed rate hike.

Earlier this month, the Water Department released a plan to raise the rates by 20% over the next two years. This comes after the Department raised rates in a similar fashion last year. Hall Monitor has been following this story closely, and our Consumer Reporter, Lance Haver, will provide a report on next week’s program.

The potential rate hike would mean an increase of $8 per month in the average monthly bill. Currently, the average bill is $69.31; the proposed increase would raise the average bill to $84 per month.

The resolution offers possible alternatives to raising the water rates, including using American Recovery Plan funds, or using a portion of the city’s fund balance.

COVID’s Impact on Black-Owned Businesses

Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson introduced a resolution authorizing the Committee on Commerce and Economic Development to hold hearings examining the “COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts on Black-owned business and the disparity in rates of closure.”

The resolution provides numerous pieces of data detailing issues unique to Black-owned businesses, including Philadelphia’s dearth of Black-owned businesses-the city has 1.8 Black-owned firms per 1000 Black residents.

According to the resolution, 58% of Black-owned businesses were already at risk of financial distress pre-pandemic, which is significantly higher than the 27% of white-owned businesses facing similar challenges. Furthermore, “40% of Black business owners reported not returning to work after the height of the pandemic, compared to 17% of white business owners.”

Legislation Passed at Yesterday’s Session of Council

Resolution No. 230039

Urging the United States Congress to pass the “Gun Records Restoration and Preservation Act”, introduced last session by U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.-13), which would repeal the Tiahrt Amendments, whose provisions have hampered efforts to address gun trafficking by, among other things, identifying and holding accountable irresponsible gun dealers and owners. Click here to learn more.

Resolution No. 230044

Condemning the Union League of Philadelphia for bestowing its highest honor, the Gold Medal, upon Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Click here to learn more.

Resolution No. 230045

Urging the Pennsylvania General Assembly to introduce legislation allowing Cities and Counties of the First Class to set their own minimum wage laws. Click here to learn more.

Resolution No. 230046

Authorizing the Philadelphia Land Bank to dispose of 3001 Martha Street located in the 1st Councilmanic District in accordance with the terms of Chapter 16-700 of The Philadelphia Code. Click here to learn more.

Bill No. 220918

Amending Chapter 14-500 of the Philadelphia Zoning Code, entitled “Overlay Zoning Districts,” by creating a new subsection, entitled “Cobbs Creek Golf Course Overlay District,” all under certain terms and conditions. Click here to learn more.

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