Monday, December 29, 2014

District budget slashes deep: Nearly 4,000 could lose jobs

The Philadelphia School District unveiled the details of the cuts needed to overcome a historic $629 million deficit yesterday — and they weren’t pretty.

District budget slashes deep: Nearly 4,000 could lose jobs

The Philadelphia School District unveiled the details of the cuts needed to overcome a historic $629 million deficit yesterday — and they weren’t pretty.

The worst of the cuts will hit the district’s teachers, more than 1,200 of whom will be out of work this summer unless the district gets more money from the city, state or federal government.

“We have an unprecedented level of revenue decline,” said Michael Masch, the district’s chief financial officer. “There has never been a year to our knowledge in which school district revenue has declined at all, not in decades.”

Here are some of the grim cuts:

3,820 Full-time jobs that the district will cut.

1,260 Teachers that will lose their job, or 12 percent of the district’s 11,000 teacher workforce.

430 Central office positions, which will cut the district’s headquarters’ workforce by half.

650 Noontime aides, who help keep kids in line during lunch, recess and in hallways.

420 Custodians, who keep classrooms and schools clean. That’s 29 percent of the district’s custodians.

180 Counselors, who help kids deal with problems both at school and at home. That means in high schools next year, there will only be one counselor for every 400 students, instead of one for every 300.

51 Nurses. This year there is one nurse for every 655 students, next year it will be one for every 750.

Programs that will be cut:

FULL-DAY KINDERGARTEN: The district says it will be forced to switch to half-day kindergarten.

ARTS AND ATHLETICS: While the district previously threatened to totally eliminate athletics, it now says it won’t have to go that far. But budgets will be severely tightened.
There will also be cuts to summer school, special ed and school budgets.


The district and education supporters are still lobbying against Corbett’s $292 million cut, but with Republicans solidly in charge of the Legislature, there’s not much hope for much money to be restored.

What is clear is that most of the cuts will affect schools.

Class sizes will revert to the maximums stipulated in contracts. Kindergarten to third grades will have 30 students, and fourth through 12th grades will have 33 students.

Meanwhile, the district is hoping it can renegotiate contracts with its unions to the tune of $75 million in savings. But it’s unknown whether any unions will be willing to talk.

Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, maintains he’s not willing to talk about reopening the contract for the district’s largest union.

Jordan also expressed his outrage by the “unconscionable” cuts the district made to early childhood education that will affect more than 1,000 children.

Dafney Tales
About this blog
Dafney Tales has been covering the School District of Philadelphia for the Daily News since 2009. She hopes this blog will be a forum where taxpayers – parents, educators and advocates - as well as students, can engage in a constructive conversation about education in the city. Send tips to talesd@phillynews.com. Reach Dafney at talesd@phillynews.com.

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