Blackwell weighs in on slashes to early ed, full-day Kindergarten

The district's harsh cuts to full-day Kindergarten and early childhood education has got local lawmakers up in arms. But their ire isn't directed at the school district, but Gov. Corbett who proposed cutting $292 million to Philadelphia schools which led to the district's decisions.

My colleague Jan Ransom reports:

Council members Jannie Blackwell, Bill Green and Curtis Jones Jr. adopted a resolution Thursday calling on Gov. Corbett, the State House of Representatives and the State Senate to continue to fund full day Kindergarten.

Corbett’s proposed budget cuts would eliminate grants that fund after school programs and full-day kindergarten advocates say.

“You think we’re in trouble now…it would hurt families everywhere,” Blackwell said. “People won’t be able to work. It affects socialization and education of children.”

Blackwell pointed out reports that more funding is being used for prisons meanwhile cuts to education continue. “We need money to provide,” Blackwell said.

Next month Blackwell hopes to have council hearings with the School District to discuss a number of issues including the deficit, employment of more school counselors, nurses and libraries.

“It’s so important to the lives of children everywhere,” Blackwell said. “All kids deserve an education. It is an important issue.”

The district announced yesterday a series of grim cuts to close a $6290 million deficit in next year's budget. Chief among them, is the loss of 3,800 jobs districtwide - including 1,260 teacher positions, 430 Central Office spots, 180 counselors and 51 nurses.

Class sizes will revert to the maximums stipulated in union contracts. Meanwhile, payments to charter schools - which are mandated by state law - will increase. Cuts will also be made to special education, summer school, arts, athletics. And public and private school students will lose out on busing and TransPasses (read my colleague David Foster's story on the district's transportation woes and what it means for parents and kids.)

The School Reform Commission must approve a budget by May 31.