Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Liveblogging the SRC & budget meeting

5:50 p.m.:

Liveblogging the SRC & budget meeting

William R. Hite, Jr. (cq) had lunch and talked with district school students June, 26, 2012, as he was in town to meet the public as the second finalist for the Philadelphia School District´s top job. ( TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer )
William R. Hite, Jr. (cq) had lunch and talked with district school students June, 26, 2012, as he was in town to meet the public as the second finalist for the Philadelphia School District's top job. ( TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer )

5:50 p.m.:

     Nobody thought the Philadelphia School District’s 2013-14 budget would be pretty, and it’s not: a $2.6 billion spending plan with a gap of $242 million.

    The best-case scenario to fill that gap, district officials said Thursday night, was the city coughing up an additional $60 million, the state an additional $120 million, and unions agreeing to $134 million in givebacks.

    Everyone involved acknowledged it was a brutal spending plan.

Chief Financial Officer Matthew Stanski described it as a “shared sacrifies budget,” and said that after the School Reform Commission was forced to borrow $300 million just to pay its bills through the end of June, and close over 30 schools in the last 18 months, the new budget would at least wipe out the structural deficit.

Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said protecting classrooms was a top priority.

“We’re trying not to impact schools any more than they’ve been impacted already,” Hite said.

The operating budget will not require the loss of any classroom jobs. But the loss of $134 million in federal grant funds - that’s a separate pool of money - could mean the loss of 1,300 school and school-related positions.

    Expiring federal stimulus money, cuts to Title I, the loss of large Department of Labor and Department of Education grants all mean that the district’s neediest children are likely to be affected.

    Hite described the federal cuts as affecting “highly impacted groups of students - special ed, free and reduced lunch, English language learners.”

    In terms of union givebacks, the district is banking on a roughly 10 percent pay cut and 10 percent benefit contributions from employees.  (It will also impose those on non-union employees, Stanski and Hite said.)

    This is a developing story.  Check back for more details.


EARLIER:

Hi, all, and welcome to a special SRC meeting for the purpose of introducing the 2013-14 budget.  No details yet, but the meeting is scheduled to begin at 5:30, and it's likely to be a tough spending plan, following a year when the district had to borrow $300 million to make ends meet.

I'll be live tweeting, and you can live stream the SRC meeting here.

There are 13 speakers on various topics, from budget to Head Start closings.


About this blog

Inquirer reporter Kristen Graham writes the Philly School Files blog, where she covers education in Philadelphia, both in and out of the classroom.

During the school year, you’ll frequently find her hosting live chats about the district on Philly.com.

Please do pass along the scoop about what’s going on at your Philadelphia public school; Kristen welcomes tips, story ideas and witty banter.


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