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District lays off 76 in central and regional administration; eliminates 137 jobs




The other shoe has dropped: The School District issued layoff notices Friday to 76 employees in its central and regional offices, eliminating 137 jobs.

"The new round of layoffs will impact all central administrative offices, including academic and operational functions," said a District statement. The layoffs will save $23 million. Some departments were cut by 40 percent.

These cuts come on top of 3,783 layoffs announced last week of school-based personnel, including all counselors and secretaries, most assistant principals, and all support personnel.

"In total, the school-based, regional and central administrative office reductions represent 19.9 percent of the current 19,530-member workforce," the statement said. Since 2011, overall staff has been reduced by 34.3 percent and central administration by 44.6 percent.

The layoffs don't equal the job eliminations because many of the affected positions had been left vacant.

The regional office cuts will primarily impact support for early childhood education, according to the District's statement. Due to cutbacks in Head Start, the District is seeking to privatize more of those seats. Now, there are not enough high-quality preschool seats in the city to accommodate all the students who need them.

In the central office, the cuts will affect professional development support for teachers and principals, the student placement office that matches students with schools, custodial, engineering and maintenance services in buildings, and the transportation department. 

The communications department will be cut -- no more live streaming of School Reform Commission meetings. Drivers' ed is gone. Fewer people in the central office will be available to answer phones. The IT department will also be cut, meaning less technical support to schools and other offices.

At the end of May, the School Reform Commission adopted a so-called "doomsday" budget with a $304 million shortfall, saying it was obligated to avoid assuming that it would have more money than it was certain to receive. Cuts in state and federal aid over the last several years have been severe; last year, the District borrowed $300 million to make ends meet, but can't do that again.

"These staff reductions further underscore our need for additional funding from the City of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and personnel savings," the press release said. The District is seeking $120 million from the state and $60 million from the city, as well as $133 million in union concessions.

The state and the city must complete their budgets by the end of this month. If more money comes through, layoffs can be rescinded.



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Dale Mezzacappa

Dale is a contributing editor at the Notebook. She has reported on education since 1986, most of that time with The Philadelphia Inquirer.