For over 146,000 students that attend the Philadelphia School District the end of the school year will come in about 13 days. They’ll leave their schools behind and won’t return until September 7th. For the school district administration and the School Reform Commission, their problems are far from over.
As City Council members continue to debate Mayor Nutter’s proposed AVI, SRC Chairman Pedro Ramos is backpedaling on his previous statement that without the additional money that the AVI bill would bring into the district they won’t be able to open the schools’ doors in September.
Apparently, now he’s saying that the schools will open, but there will have to be compromises met. In other words, the SRC’s vow not to layoff anymore personnel inside the schools may be up for debate; that other items such as full day kindergarten, instrumental music programs as well as the operating budgets that pays for secretaries, books and supplies may be cut or reduced. Earlier this year, many secretaries had already been laid off.
If the money isn’t received from the city, the district will have to cut 18% of its budget. Even if the district does get the money, they’re still facing an over $200 million shortage.
It would be nice if all interested parties (unions) would play ball with the school district. Even if teachers aren’t laid off, budget cuts do have a serious impact on them. Currently, the unions are refusing to work with the district by agreeing to help them cut over $155 million.
It’s also time that parents pitch in, the way Meredith Elementary School’s parents did, to raise money to help cover some of the budget loss in the individual schools. In fact, they raised thousands of dollars to help the school out. If the parents don’t want services cut or schools to close, they need to step up to the plate.
Also, yet to come is the hiring of a new superintendent that will replace former-superintendent Dr. Arlene Ackerman. The SRC has stated that someone will be hired by the end of July, which is the beginning of the school district’s fiscal year. Currently, there are 87 people who have applied for the job. The SRC has stated that they aren’t going to settle and only pick someone who’s really right for the job. So, if none of the 87 applicants fit that bill, the school year could begin without a new superintendent.
Recovery Officer Thomas Knudsen’s six month contract will also be up at the end of June and it’s unknown if that’ll be renewed. If all the applicants are rejected, his contract could be extended or they may choose to keep him on in addition to hiring a new superintendent. The school district also has to hire a new CFO since Masch, who had been demoted, quit before they fired him.