Phila. SD must cut $22 m more

Update, 5 p.m.

The Philadelphia School District must cut $22 million on top of the more than $600 million in cuts it has already made, Chief Financial Officer Michael Masch said at the School Reform Commission meeting today.

Masch recommended a further $10 million reduction in school budgets, which have already taken a hit.  Also on the table are cuts in instrumental music, athletics, bilingual counseling assistants, educational technology, psychologists and English language learner instruction. 

But those cuts wouldn't address the $22 million gap; further cuts are needed to plug that hole.

Since Masch last briefed on the budget, there have been several adjustments, he said, including less money than anticipated for building sales, less money in "efficiency measures," and less than planned for union contract savings.

The district has lost 3,800 employees since May, and cannot make any further cuts to its central office, which has been reduced by 50 percent already, Masch said.

"The only place we still have the discretionary ability to cut is in instructional programs," Masch said.

Interim SRC Chairman Wendell Pritchett acknowledged the district's straits.

"These are very difficult times, and unfortunately, they’re not ending soon," Pritchett said.


The Philadelphia School Reform Commission meets today at 3 p.m. (not 2 p.m. as it usually does).  It's the first meeting for new member Lorene Cary, a novelist and Mayor Nutter's second appointee.  The commission will have only three members seated - Cary, interim chairman Wendell Pritchett, who was appointed by Nutter in September, and Joseph Dworetzky.  The other two members, gubernatorial nominees Pedro Ramos and Feather Houstoun, must be confirmed by the state Senate before taking their SRC seats.  Resolutions need three votes to pass, so any non-unanimous vote means the measure would not be adopted.

On the agenda: the SRC will formally approve contract extensions with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and Commonwealth Association of School Administrators, among other things.  

But the most interesting part of the meeting is likely to be an update on the state of the Philadelphia School District's finances.  Chief Financial Officer Michael Masch will discuss where the district is in its gap-closing plan in light of the massive 2011-12 budget shortfall it's had to cope with over the past several months.

I'll be live Tweeting.  Check back here for updates, or follow me on Twitter @newskag.

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