School District Expected To Pass Provisional Budget
The School District of Philadelphia is slated to pass a provisional 2011-12 budget today that contains as much as $629 million in cuts, however, could be trimmed between $75 million to $110 million if City Council decides to help bail the district out. Thank goodness this is an election cycle and Council must seriously decide how (or if) they will come up with that kind of money.
All this is happening, by the way, as the IRS is auditing the school district, which is to be released tomorrow and may contain four “material weaknesses.”
The school district enrolls 154,482 students from kindergarten through 12th grade–about a quarter of the Commonwealth’s schools–and spends about $15,000.00 on each student. That’s more than tuition at Temple University, which costs11,834 for FY 2009-2010 for a full-time liberal arts undergraduate student.
With all that cash, it’s uncanny that school district officials would threaten to cut transportation, full-day kindergarten and 1,200 teachers. Surely, other positions or programs could be more appropriately slashed instead of every student bearing some of the pain. But Ackerman is so focused on staying on track of her Imagine 2014 plan, she is disregarding students’ best interests. Some summer programs could be cut, like the $23 million it plans to spend on an 18-day summer school program.
Ackerman claims she is working with SEPTA in an ongoing deal for students. However, Councilman Bill Green decided to take matters in his own hands and personally talk to SEPTA to “maintain the trans-passes, which won’t cost $25 million because 80-percent is reimbursed by the state,” he said last week.“There’s lots of money in a $2.7 billion budget…There is no way to convince me there are things less important that are currently in their requested appropriation…We have to choose between competing ideas. If the city provides the money, something else will have to be cut. It’s not going to be fully funded by tax increases.”
Philadelphia, like other major cities, cannot afford to cut more than a half-billion dollars from its budget without hurting students. But if people were really concerned, if the parents, students and city leaders really cared, where were they when PA Republicans were voting Tom Corbett into office?
The school district will release its budget this evening at 5:00 at district headquarters.