Phila. SD faces a new $35M shortfall

kindergarten_4001
Philadelphia School District CFO Michael Masch said at a press briefing Wednesday that the school system now faces an additional $35 million in cuts.

Philadelphia School District Chief Financial Officer Michael Masch said at a press briefing Wednesday that the school system now faces an additional $35 million in cuts.

The district was banking on $57 million in reimbursements for charter school costs, but the state is declining to provide the funds.  The district did receive $22 million more than expected thanks to an Accountability Block Grant, bringing the total gap to $35 million.

That's above and beyond the $629 million gap announced this spring and made up through a combination of layoffs, deep program cuts and additional money from the city.

"We hope to announce what the decisions are to close this $35 million gap in the near future," Masch said.

Also still up in the air is how the district will get $75 million in give-backs from its five unions.  Officials are banking on that savings, but no deals have been reached yet, and some of the unions - including the largest, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, have said they won't negotiate.

The School Reform Commission has threatened to cancel the contracts and impose terms on the unions, a power it has under the state takeover law that created the SRC.  It would be the first time the SRC used that power.

"It's clearly not too late" for unions to start talking, Masch said.  "We are in active discussions with some of our collective bargaining units, but not all of them."

Masch said the district is not proposing re-opening the contracts because it believes workers are paid too much.

"We have some very brutal math to deal with," Masch said.

The district is not proposing a wage cut, but avoiding an increase, he said.

"If we avoid that increase, we can save hundreds of jobs," Masch said, but if not.  Foregoing the $75 million in union give-backs would mean the layoff of 800 more workers, in addition to the 3,400 already given pink slips.

Continue Reading