Letters to the Editor

Unfair school funding formula

Reading Mark Zimmaro’s report about the emergency closing of Southwark Elementary School at 9th and Mifflin streets (“Southwark closes after asbestos discovery,” Nov. 1), I was reminded of letters I wrote years ago to the South Philly Review about the unfair education funding formula in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The way it works, funding for schools comes from 3 sources: the federal government, the state and finally local property taxes. The way Pennsylvania does it, too much of the funding has to be raised by local property taxes. Of course this means that districts with higher property values get more education funds than those with poorer values. A recent Commonwealth Court ruling found that this formula is totally unfair and therefore unconstitutional. The ruling stands.

Philadelphia is one of those districts with a high poverty rate and therefore less money for its schools. Schools like Southwark are also very old. It was completed in 1911. At that time asbestos was a common part of large building construction and meant to fireproof the school. Over the century that asbestos has turned to dust, which is very dangerous to human health.

Of course that all means that the school had to be closed to enable the removal of asbestos. And of course that means that students have to learn from a distance for as long as it takes.

This is just one example of the high cost of neglecting our schools due in large part to an unfair funding formula. So, while we are fixing or replacing old and dangerous buildings, we also need to fix the source of school funds so that all children are assured of a safe and well maintained learning environment. It is long overdue!

Gloria C. Endres

Fewer guns, more police patrols

Philadelphia gun violence has gotten so out of hand where now our SEPTA drivers are being victims of gun violence. Zhontay Capers, 21, allegedly murdering 48-year-old Bernard Gribbin in Germantown on Oct. 26 is disgraceful.

The mayor’s office, district attorney’s office, Council office, state representatives, senators and Congress have to do a better job getting the guns out of the hands of people who are willing to do something ruthless. Just clearing the guns off the streets, period, is what they need to do.

Gun violence just keeps going nonstop for some reason in our beloved city. The Philadelphia Police Department also has to up its security patrols throughout our city.

More police officers patrolling 24/7 and more police car details need to be in effect. This will curb the crime and violence everywhere a substantial amount if taken seriously.

Alim Howell