Friday, November 27, 2015

More cuts coming for Phila. schools

Roughly $14 million still needs to be cut on top. With classroom teachers protected from mid-year layoffs, there are not many places left to cut.

More cuts coming for Phila. schools


Brace yourselves. Philadelphia School District officials are expected to give an update on the 2011-12 budget picture next week and...well, when was the last time we heard good news in that sector?

I asked officials to answer a number of budget questions in advance of the meeting, and they declined. They said Chief Financial Officer Michael Masch’s budget update at Thursday’s SRC meeting would have to suffice.

To recap: last we heard, the district cut $15 million from its budget by slashing individual schools’ discretionary funds and laying off staff including some school nurses. That’s on top of the thousands of layoffs and program cuts made going into the school year.

Roughly $14 million still needs to be cut on top of that. With classroom teachers protected from mid-year layoffs, there are not many places left to cut.

At one city public school, Cook-Wissahickon in Roxborough, a group of parents recently wrote to Gov. Corbett, state Sen. Vincent Hughes and state Rep.Pamela DeLissio to ask for more funds. The budget cuts made to date, the parents wrote, “have undermined our ability to maintain high standards of student support, engagement and safety.”

Some of Cook-Wissahickon’s losses since the fiscal crisis began:

-One kindergarten teacher, forcing large class sizes — 30 students each — in the two remaining kindergarten classes.
-Spanish teacher.  The school no longer offers a world language.
-Assistant Principal.
-School police officer.
-Bus monitor.
-Four of five noontime aides.
-Full-time music teacher.  The school now has a music teacher only two days a week.
-Prep period coverage, meaning the counselor has to fill in to cover classes, taking her away from her counseling duties.
-School supply budget.  The school currently has a budget of zero for the rest of the year; the Home and School Association is “begging parents for donations of paper and other school supplies.”
-Gifted program. The program is now funded at 35 hours for the whole school year.  “It exists in name only,” the parents wrote.

And that’s the story of a good school with an active parent group.

Every school has felt the pinch in ways big and small, and frankly, folks are worrying how on earth they’ll lose any more and still remain viable.

“If I have to cut more, I don’t know where I’d cut,” one principal said.  “There’s nothing left to cut.”

We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy: comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
comments powered by Disqus
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

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

Kristen Graham Inquirer Staff Writer
Also on
letter icon Newsletter