PHILADELPHIA- (August 15th) – Sen. Vincent Hughes released the following statement today in response the announcement that Philadelphia public schools will open on time:

“While I am grateful that students and parents will not have to deal with the disruption of our public schools opening late, I am deeply concerned that the continued lack of adequate funding will further erode conditions in our classrooms. The cuts that were announced today, as well as the ongoing insecurity given the lack of additional funds from Harrisburg, are simply unacceptable. The lack of commitment to our public schools in Philadelphia and across the Commonwealth has become a national embarrassment.

We already know that current funding levels are not enough to create an environment to prepare our students for the challenges of the 21st Century. Conditions in our public schools were deplorable last year and now the system is gearing up for a repeat at best, with likely even less funding and more cuts to vital programs. We cannot expect our children to shine academically while providing them with such woefully inadequate resources.

I am also concerned that once again the hardworking staff of the Philadelphia public school system has been asked to make more sacrifices to close the budget gap. The system has let go more than 5,000 employees and closed over 30 buildings in the past three years. Quite simply, school workers have done their part to help. The fault lies with state lawmakers for not providing enough money for our schools, including Governor Tom Corbett who cut statewide education funding by more than $1 billion in his first budget.

The state legislature is currently scheduled to return on September 15th. We must immediately pass the $2-pack cigarette tax authorization so that no more time is lost to collect that revenue. However, that is not enough. Lawmakers must also immediately consider other options to provide funding for Philadelphia schools. We have a moral responsibility to do what is right for our students who are currently being left behind by the irresponsible actions of adults.”

Senator Vincent Hughes represents the 7th Senatorial District, which includes parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery County. He is also the Democratic Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.