Councilman Bill Green called the School District of Philadelphia "a drowning man."
"In terms of its performance and in terms of its monetary funding," he said.
At Thursday's City Council meeting, Green spoke out against Mayor Michael Nutter's tax plan, which was introduced Wednesday, that would tax cigarettes and liquor by the drink to raise money for the school district.
"While I support the Mayor's revenue proposals for schools, they are unlikely to pass the general assembly, and frankly, missed the point," Green added. "Even if they do, there is no more help coming from the general assembly so there will be a $200 million gap."
"The city is simply not capable of filling the gap for the current failing system by itself," he added.
Nutter’s proposal includes a $2 tax hike on cigarettes, and an increase on the liquor-by-the-drink tax from 10 percent to 15 percent. Along with plans for improved tax collections, the city expects to raise an estimated $95 million for the school district, which faces a $300 million deficit.
Green said that the issue today is "far more complicated than throwing more money at the school district."
He asked: Is the school district just too big to succeed?
"The district continues to propose marginal and incremental change that condemns tens of thousands of students every year to a system that produces proficiency below 40 percent in most neighborhood schools," he said. "No case for transformative change has been made to significantly improve outcomes for the students in our system.
"When they focus on presenting a realistic budget that balances income and expenditures and provides transformative change we should help," he said