Philadelphia Gov. Refuses Call
Dec. 15, 2001
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Negotiations over the future of the Philadelphia school system threatened to collapse Friday, as Gov. Mark Schweiker refused to take a call from the mayor and considered shutting down talks.
Schweiker was seething over a 67-page confidential report, leaked to reporters Thursday, that outlined how the mayor could ``cripple the school district's ability to function'' if the state took over.
``The governor is still as upset today as he was yesterday when he learned details of the document,'' said Schweiker's spokesman, Steve Aaron.
The report _ prepared at Mayor John F. Street's request _ said the mayor could declare the school district bankrupt, fail to collect taxes, strip the district of key personnel and tie up the state in litigation.
``Here we have a report commissioned by the mayor that appears to be a playbook on how to sabotage our ability to successfully turn these schools around,'' Aaron said.
Schweiker and Street face a Dec. 21 deadline for an agreement on a state takeover of the 210,000-student school district. But may decide to halt negotiations and go it alone, Aaron said Friday.
Mayoral spokeswoman Luz Cardenas defended the report, saying it only outlined the mayor's options and didn't suggest a specific course of action.
The document was authored by two former mayoral chiefs of staff and two former city solicitors.
The governor has proposed that a private company, Edison Schools Inc., help run the district, which has been plagued by low test scores, a teacher shortage and a $216 million budget deficit.
On the Net:
Philadelphia School District: http://www.phila.k12.pa.us/