Spring-Ford Area School Board members expressed surprise Friday upon hearing of a $5 million donation made by GlaxoSmithKline to the city of Philadelphia on Thursday.
"We certainly applaud GlaxoSmithKline's efforts to provide aid to the next generation of business owners in Philadelphia, but we're wondering why our children aren’t being given the same consideration," said School Board President Joseph Ciresi in a statement released to the media this morning.
GlaxoSmithKline and the school district are currently battling over the real estate assessment of the GSK research and development center located within the district. GSK has appealed the assessment, and if their appeal is granted, the district stands to lose approximately $5.5 million in back taxes and $1.9 million annually in real estate revenue.
GSK’s appeal comes at a time when the district is facing numerous other assessment appeals, as well as district budget issues, a potentially significant cut in state funding, and increasing expenses in other areas. These and other factors have combined to form a projected $11.8 million deficit in the district's 2011-12 budget. The district is seeking ways to close the gap before the final budget is due to be adopted in June.
GlaxoSmithKline CEO Andrew Witty announced on March 23rd that his company would be making the donation to benefit Philadelphia youth. No details were announced, but the donation will likely be awarded as grants to non-government agencies.
Witty was quoted in the Daily News as saying, "I don't see it being used to subsidize normal education activity. This is something to go on top of that, to inspire people...One of the things we'll be looking for in terms of people bidding is, inspire us - come up with something that gets us excited, something that really speaks to the next generation of people who are going to be successful, to build businesses and drive the economy forward."
"So that we don't overburden our taxpayers, we are going to have to make some very tough decisions in the next few months about our programs, our class sizes and the allocation of our staff members," said Mr. Ciresi in the district’s statement. "We wish this corporate philosophy of giving back to the community would be embraced by the executives who run the GSK division in our school district."