Activists say Penn’s commitment is a step in the right direction but falls short of their goal to have the university pay PILOTs commensurate with the amount of property it owns.
Activists question whether wealthy universities should be exempt from property taxes | The Hechinger Report
Philadelphia Jobs With Justice, a pro-labor nonprofit, has been campaigning for this for years. “This victory is a testament to the strength of the movement by public school teachers, parents and students for equitable funding for their schools,” said Devan Spear, the executive director of Philadelphia Jobs With Justice, in a press release. “It is also not the end of this fight. The immense wealth inequality and chronic public-school underfunding in our city requires a fundamental transformation in the way that wealthy institutions relate [to] surrounding communities.”
Two weeks after the University of Pennsylvania made a $100 million contribution to the School District of Philadelphia, it’s unlikely the cash infusion will inspire copycat donations from major higher education peers in the city.
I’m a Penn alum – there’s nothing charitable about their $100 million donation | Philadelphia Magazine
The big gift to the school district doesn’t settle the ongoing debate over whether the multibillion-dollar institution is doing enough to pay its fair share.
This news allows us to continue and deepen our conversations about PILOTs, not end them. People across the city are newly conscious of the way racism and inequality are built into what it means to live in Philadelphia. With our elected officials and our teachers, we should redouble efforts to ensure that well before 10 more years have passed, Philadelphia’s children have access to fully funded public education.
Christmas came early this year for the Philadelphia School District. The University of Pennsylvania pledged $100 million to go toward fixing unsafe school buildings. Activist leaders on campus and across the city have called for a donation like this for a long time. They want Penn to pay payments in lieu of taxes, known as PILOTs, calling foul on the regulations that allow a nonprofit that owns $3.2 billion in city real estate to skip property taxes.
$100 million is nothing to sniff at. By 2022, the School District of Philadelphia will be $700 million in debt. The COVID-19 crisis has not made these numbers any prettier. Penn’s donation will do a world of good in making sure that West Philly kids have access to safe and healthy learning environments and will help the school district to not go into further debt. Undoubtedly, Penn’s donation is a step in the right direction. But it is just that: a step. In light of this donation, we renew our call for the University to pay Payments In Lieu Of Taxes, or PILOTS.
‘We consider this a first victory’: Penn professors see university gift as important step for funding Philadelphia schools | Chalkbeat Philadelphia
Members of Penn for PILOTS still argue that local wealthy property owners, like Penn, should be pressed to ensure the city’s schools are fully funded through recurring PILOTS.
Students, experts greet Penn’s $100 million donation, but renew push for U. to pay PILOTs | The Daily Pennsylvanian
Following years of backlash for its refusal to make Payment in Lieu of Taxes, Penn has decided to contribute $100 million to the School District of Philadelphia. Yet, students and professors say the contribution is not a PILOT, criticizing its short-term commitment as well as Penn’s framing of it as a gift rather than a debt owed to the city.
Penn is heralding the $100 million gift, which is targeted for facility improvements, as the largest it has ever made to the schools. Looking at the payment as charity, that might be seen as sufficient. But advocates have been pushing for 40 percent of what the university would pay in property taxes each year were it to pay taxes, and that would currently amount to $40 million a year.