District now says it has $38.8M left to cut by June

The Philadelphia School District's current budget gap stands at $38.8 million, officials said Friday.

On Jan. 19, the district announced it had a $61m shortfall that had to be bridged by June.  The district said in a statement today that number had actually increased to $70.8 million.

Some cuts have been made, but $38.8 million must still be cut, spokesman Fernando Gallard said in a statement.

The gap had increased in part because of costs associated with a voluntary early retirement program offered to employees last year.  More employees than anticipated accepted the offer, meaning the program cost the district instead of saving it money.  The district also had "separations in excess of the number originally anticipated because of continued layoffs throughout the winter," it said in the statement.  The costs include mandatory payments required at termination and unemployment costs, the district said.

Already cut were 91 school police officers and a handful of regional and central office staff.  The district also saved money by implementing furloughs, pay cuts and healthcare contributions for some non-unionized administrative employees.  It has also slashed summer school programs and consolidated the number of schools open nights and weekends for city recreation programs.

Cuts proposed but not yet decided upon include: losing all spring sports, instrumental music, gifted programs, and bilingual counseling associates.  The district has also said it might cut back on the number of school psychologists.  It's not clear when those decisions will be made or announced.