Philadelphia Continues to Struggle with Budget, Funding

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In order to continue the same programs being offered throughout the Philadelphia School District next year – which the district has referred to as “insufficient” – an additional $30 million will be needed to close the district’s deficit.

What’s more, that number will increase to $152 million by the 2018-19 school year to avoid any further cutbacks.

That is assuming the district is successful in its attempt to cancel teacher contracts and impose health-care changes, writes Kristen A. Graham for Philly.com.  The case is currently in Commonwealth Court, but an injunction has stopped plans to begin changes to the health care in the district this month.  It is not yet known when the court will make its decision.

If the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers wins, the amount the district will require to maintain its current levels will rise to $80 million for next year.

When he introduced the district’s five-year plan at the School Reform Commission Meeting  last week, Superintendent William Hite said that the number is merely a minimal request.

“Expenditures included in this plan are sufficient to keep schools open, but with far too few resources. It is a plan that does not meet the needs of all students,” Hite said in the report. “It merely represents the district’s commitment to live within its means.”

In order to create a school district where every student has “access to a quality education,” Hite said that $309 million will be needed next year, rising to $913 million by 2018-19, writes Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks.

If the district had access to the increased funding, Hite said he could ensure that “all students graduate college- and career-ready; all 8-year-olds read on grade level; and all schools have great principals and teachers.”

To come up with the additional cash, the district is asking the city for $103 million and the state for $206 million.  If the district receives the full amount, its budget for next year would be $2.9 billion.

“We come hat in hand every year because the mandated structures we have and the funding mechanism we have aren’t growing at the same pace, and are not meeting the needs of the children of Philadelphia,” chief financial officer Matthew Stanski said Thursday.

The School Reform Commission approved the district’s five-year “status quo” plan in a unanimous vote, reports Evan Grossman for Watchdog.  The plan keeps revenue at the level it is currently set, and programs where they are now, leaving many schools without full-time counselors, nurses or extra-curricular activities.

“The plan assumes expenditure reductions from benefit savings from the PFT,” according to the spending document presented by Superintendent William Hite. “Similarly, if necessary savings are not achieved, the district will be required to make drastic cuts to services to align expenditures with revenues.”