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Commentary: The '20% less' solution is the problem, not the answer

By Guest blogger on Jul 3, 2012 04:42 PM

This guest blog post comes from Michael Churchill of the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia.


Philadelphia is being told that District budget deficits can only be avoided through deep program cuts, massive school closures, and contract concessions. City Council was asked to increase funding to avoid even further damage. But little attention is being focused on the true cause of the District’s deficits – the state’s insistence that Philadelphia students ought to be educated for 20 percent less than what is being spent on students in the rest of our region.

The School District’s new leadership has told us that the District faces a potential $1.1 billion budget gap over the next five years unless we close one-third of the District’s schools, replace all custodians and bus drivers with lower-paid, outsourced replacements, ask teachers and other remaining District staff to accept a 10 to 15 percent cut in their wages and benefits (or have that cut imposed on them by taking away collective bargaining), and get the city to approve $94 million in new local property  taxes, in addition to the $54 million local school-funding increase approved last year.

The District’s leadership says this plan provides for “shared sacrifice” to keep our schools solvent. There is one glaring problem with this argument: All the sacrifices are being demanded of Philadelphia residents, taxpayers, parents, students and staff. There is no call for the Commonwealth to rescind the massive funding cuts it imposed on the District last year.

District leadership is promoting the narrative that the financial problems of Philadelphia’s schools are the result of “bad fiscal policies” on the part of the District itself. In other words, it created its own problems through incompetence and overspending. We Philadelphians are often willing to believe that our local officials have messed up, but in this case the facts just don’t support this myth.

Let's take a look at many of the questions swirling around the District's budget.

Has the School District been spending more than it was given? No.

The District ran surpluses of about $30 million a year in 2009, 2010, and 2011.  In 2012, after massive spending cuts to make up for a 15 percent reduction in state and federal funding and unavoidable cost increases in areas like health care, pensions, utilities and charter schools, the District says its 2012 budget is close to balanced. So, the District is not living beyond its means.

Is Philly spending too much for its schools? Far from it!

The most recent statewide figures available from the Department of Education indicate that per-student spending in Philadelphia was $13,272 in 2009-10, 3 percent lower than average per student expenditures in all of Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts. (And that was before this year’s 8 percent across-the-board Philadelphia spending cuts.)

Does Philadelphia spend more per student than neighboring school districts?  No. 

State data show that average per-student spending in the 62 school districts in Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery Counties was $15,976 in 2009-10, $2,703 more per student than Philadelphia. (If Philadelphia had an extra $2,700 per student, its budget would be $540 million higher.) Why would anyone think that  students living in deep poverty in Philadelphia can be effectively educated for 20 percent less than what is being spent on students in the suburbs? And why would anyone think it fair to keep on doing so, year after year?

Well, doesn’t Philadelphia get more state funding than any other Pennsylvania school district? No, not on a per-student basis. 

State data show that more than 30 percent of Pennsylvania’s school districts get higher per-student state funding than Philadelphia. In some cases, the difference is dramatic. Pittsburgh received $8,645 per student in state funding in 2010, while Philadelphia received $6,779. That’s a $1,866 difference. If Philly had an extra $1,866 per student in state funding, it would be receiving $373 million more from the Commonwealth.

And the disparities continue. 

The governor’s 2013 budget proposes 4 percent state funding increases for school districts like Lower Merion, Colonial, Upper Dublin, Hatboro, and Radnor, but just 1 percent for Philadelphia.

Well, wasn’t all the funding Philly lost this year federal stimulus funding? Shouldn’t the District have seen that coming? The School District did see the stimulus cuts coming. 

But Pennsylvania also cut an additional $190 million from Philadelphia by slashing 100%-state-funded education line items like charter school reimbursement, educational assistance, dual enrollment, accountability block grants, and a host of smaller line items.

How about teacher pay? Isn’t Philly higher there?

The Pennsylvania School Boards Association says that in their first few years Philly teachers get paid about the same as teachers in the suburbs, and then get paid significantly less. (It is true that suburban teachers contribute to their health care costs, and Philly teachers do not. If Philly teachers contributed at suburban levels, the District could save at least $30 million a year.)

Well, didn’t former Superintendent Arlene Ackerman waste a lot of money on pet programs? No question, Ackerman used one-time federal stimulus money to create and expand academic programs.

Under federal rules, that’s what she was supposed to do. The jury is out on whether those initiatives were worthwhile. But now that is beside the point.  The stimulus money is gone and the programs it paid for have been eliminated, yet the District’s 2013 budget is still massively out of balance. So the District’s current budget crisis is not the result of lost stimulus funding or Ackerman’s pet projects.

Really, it shouldn’t even be necessary to make these arguments. 

All you have to do is look at what is happening to school district budgets in the rest of Pennsylvania. How can the financial problems of the Philadelphia schools be the unique result of local “bad fiscal policies” when every low-income, low-tax-base school district in Pennsylvania is suffering similar distress? York, Erie, Lancaster, Chester, Reading are all being forced to make massive cuts. Doesn’t that strongly suggest that Philadelphia’s financial crisis is not the result of some unique failing on Philadelphia’s part, but rather the refusal on the part of the Commonwealth to provide adequate funding for all of Pennsylvania’s public schools?

This is not an argument for maintaining the status quo.

The District does have underutilized buildings that it must close. It does need to improve efficiency, root out waste, and promote accountability. The unions do need to be part of the solution. So do local taxpayers. And academic achievement, which has been going up, clearly needs to improve much more. 

But any plan to make things better has to start with the reality that Philadelphia is deeply underfunded by any objective measure. 

The District’s current five-year financial plan is so draconian and imposes so many unreasonable costs on parents, teachers, and other employees because it accepts the premise that the Commonwealth has no obligation to be a significant partner in meeting the District’s financial needs. That forces all other options to be more extreme than is fair or rational.

For example, even if City Council had approved the District’s request for $94 million in new school taxes, the SRC was proposing to borrow at least $217 million to balance a 2013 budget that restores none of this year’s cuts, saddles future city taxpayers with the resulting long-term obligation from the deficit financing – and asks the Commonwealth for nothing.

That is really bad fiscal policy, forced on the District by the Commonwealth’s failure to do its share. We need the Commonwealth, which controls the SRC, to become a true partner in creating strong public schools for all Philadelphia students. We cannot compete with 20 percent less.

Even so, in the final budget negotiations, as the legislature rushed to help distressed districts, Philadelphia was deliberately excluded from getting any extra funds.

I hope that incoming superintendent William Hite understands this and will be an advocate for the District's needs in Harrisburg.

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Comments (37)

Submitted by Ken Derstine on July 3, 2012 9:09 pm

Thank you for the much needed spelling out of the inequity in funding by the state of Philadelphia public schools. That this has happened even as the state has been the manager of the school district through the SRC for the last ten years is particularly incredible.

I take issue with your statement that Ackerman's "pet projects" such as Promise Academies and Renaissance charters were eliminated after the federal stimulus money ended. According to the SDP website there are nine Promise Academies still in operation. http://webgui.phila.k12.pa.us/offices/p/promise-academy-office/#=our=sch...
Renaissance charters continue and are being expanded.
http://webgui.phila.k12.pa.us/offices/r/renaissance-schools/

In the spring of 2011, after the stimulus money had ended, Chief Financial Officer Masch held community meetings where he gave a Power Point presentation which clearly showed that money was being cut for regular public schools and increased for Ackerman's "pet projects" and charter schools.

In the fiscal year just completed the District had a deficit of $665 million. Over $300 million was due to district over spending and much of this was due to Ackerman continuing her "pet projects" even though there was no more federal money to fund them. In my opinion, based on what I know about the Broad Foundation on whose Board Ackerman served while she was Superintendent, Ackerman was doing this deliberately to advance a privatization agenda. http://parentsacrossamerica.org/2011/04/how-to-tell-if-your-school-distr...

The other $300 million was due to the $1 billion in cuts Corbett made to education statewide in the just ended fiscal budget. None of this has been restored to Philadelphia in the current budget. The biggest cuts were made to districts with a large number of students in low income families such as Philadelphia. http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2011/08/poor_schools_hit_hard...

As to Corbett's claim that there was no money, in the same budget where he cut education by $1 billion he increased spending for prisons by $700 million, including three new prisons, two of which are to be privately owned, for profit institutions.

Over the last few decades there have been law suits directed at addressing the inequity of funding for Philadelphia by the state. They always got sidelined with political deals usually involving a little money for the District in return for the suits being dropped. Could your organization take up such a law suit? There would be a lot of community support for it.

Submitted by Concerned Philadelphian (not verified) on July 3, 2012 9:27 pm

Another Ackerman "pet project" was her summer school extravaganza. It was a waste of money - ask most teachers who were paid very well to staff nearly empty classrooms (especially 9 - 12th grade). I also consider Ackerman's top heavy "Empowerment Schools" (what a misnomer) a "pet project." We were forced to use scripted curricula and were heavily supervised by a top down heavy staff.

That said, I agree effort to make Harrisburg distribute funding more equitably has been pushed aside at least since Hornbeck. I assume there are a number of schools districts - both urban and rural - who would join in a law suit. The "deal" in 2001 was Harrisburg would provide sufficient funding if the Dept. of Ed. took over the SDP. All we have received is the imposition of the SRC. So, yes, Ackerman is heavily to blame but she was allowed to operated under the control of a Harrisburg controlled SRC.

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on July 4, 2012 8:45 am

Thank you Ken and Concerned Philadelphian.Thank goodness for those who have historical memory. I am curious as to what that deal was when Mayor Street dropped his lawsuit against the State. According to the charter schools, the City was being reimbursed for children it did not have to educate, that is was being compensated twice? to promote/allow this "reform".

I would think that even more than in the past the City has grounds for a lawsuit, not only on discrimination charges, but on negligence on the part of the State control (SRC).

Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on July 4, 2012 9:45 am

Daniel Denvir has written about some of the history with Hornbeck/law suits - http://www.citypaper.net/news/2012-05-03-whos-killing-philly-public-scho...
"Who's Killing Philly Public Schools?
Underfunded. Overburdened. About to be sold for scrap." (scroll down to about the middle of the article)

This is from the article: "Street, too, criticized the takeover, but he soon reached a new deal with Ridge's replacement, Gov. Mark Schweiker: The city would get $75 million in aid and two appointments, instead of one, to the five-member SRC; Edison would not take over district headquarters; and the number of schools turned over to them would be reduced. Even scaled back, it would be American public education's greatest foray into privatization, and the largest state takeover, too."

I agree - the SRC has been a fiscal and educational disaster. I would think the ineptitude of the SRC might lead to a law suit. This is probably the only recourse under the Corbett Administration which is using all its power - and succeeding - at promoting private/parochial schools while underfunding and undermining public schools. Corbett has his vouchers and is now going to focus, once again, on expanding charters state wide. (See "Corbett Already Eying Bills for Fall Season, Phila. Inquirer, 7/4/12, http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20120704_Corbett_already_eyeing_bills_...) We can't forget who funds Corbett - natural gas drillers and charter school operators such as Gladwyne lawyer and entrepreneur Vahan Gureghian.

(This paper also has historical information on Phila.'s "diverse provider model" - http://www.educationindustry.org/assets/partnershipconferencewhitepaper.pdf)

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on July 5, 2012 11:34 am

Thank you Philly Parent and Teacher for the references. It does indeed take more time than most of us have to follow up and research, so any leads and info are much appreciated. I thought I remembered an article, but can't find it now, that mentions that Mayor Nutter's lawyers advised against a lawsuit as being too expensive and not likely to win (there was a similar attempt in Camden?). If it is about negligence on the part of the SRC, I'm not sure I agree; Do we have a chance Mr. Churchill? In the case of poor Chester Upland, how can the State say the solution is their control when they controlled the PSD into a bigger deficit than before?

What I never understood is the passive attitude the Philly District and its teachers seem to have. So the proposed reform is choice, but seems only the charters are game for competition. In addition there was purportedly a deal that all charter transfers would be fully compensated so the PSD would not lose funding (at first with nothing in writing of course), but couldn't the PSD see the consequences down the line as they approved probably the largest number of charters ever (70 to 80)? The naivete/compartmentalized thinking is astounding.

So sad about Chester Upland and Chester Community Charter (Mr. Gureghian's cash cow). Chester Community Charter has only a "3" (out of "10") rating on greatschools.org (yes I know the stats are a few years behind) per test scores (which are NOT disclosed on the school's website), and an equally mediocre community rating. The teachers there need to do what the teachers here need to do: reach out and educate the parents as to what resources are actually being given to the kids. Then they need to (yes sometimes this is necessary) advertise and promote themselves through such things as open houses and other public "meet and greet" events.

Finally, in terms of finance, more institutionalized spending does not always return equally greater results. Central HS spends only $5,555 per child and gets quite good results. Yes, I understand it's not that simple, but one might try and "work backwards" and see where the missing link(s) are and target any extra $ (above that $5,555) more specifically to the actual children, rather than an ineffective system wide policy (sound familiar? - the justification for charters...so how about the traditional schools "beat them at their own game"?:)

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on July 5, 2012 12:31 pm

Comparing Central, SLA, Masterman, etc. to a neighborhood school is a non-starter. Schools like Central only admit students who have already proven they can succeed at the game called school. Also, the level of engagement by family, the family's political/social/economic capital, etc. is far different at Central and Masterman versus Germantown or Ben Franklin. Just look at Central's library - paid for by the Alumni Assoc. Many neighborhood high schools don't even have a librarian. Central, SLA, Masterman, etc. hold numerous fundraisers which also provide them with additional funding. Comparing Central, a school with one of the most powerful and wealthy alumni associations in the US, is unique.

Submitted by Ms.Chent (not verified) on July 5, 2012 12:09 pm

Remember the topic is "equity of funding", not "better or worse/higher or lower seats". If we take Roxborough HS which is a neighborhood school, we see that the expenditure is about $12,000 per student vice the less than $6,000 per student at Central. After accounting for Special Ed (remember Gifted is also Special Ed), there is still a difference of several thousand $ per student. Yes the "wealthy, well connected" alumni built the library at Central, but do not annually contribute a per student amount equal to this difference in spending. Plus the library is fairly recent, how would we explain the efficient use of $ prior? Central has over 2000 students: that is a lot of taxpayer $.

So it appears that the key is "behavior". So let me make another case for targeting grant money for what and who it was meant for: Spend Title I on the kids, directly on them, not on b.s. administration. See if this doesn't help the "behavior".

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on July 5, 2012 12:28 pm

Interesting thing about Chester Community Charter: they spend a disproportionately large amount (40%) on administration as opposed to what typically charters spend (16%). In addition, per parent comments, they don't offer music and art. Need we wonder how Mr. Gureghian is getting rich?

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on July 5, 2012 3:26 pm

Gureghian is the poster child in Pennsylvania for making money off of taxpayers. He has Corbett in his pocket. Any school district with 40% toward administration would put up "red flags." Apparently for the for-profit charter operator in Chester, certainly a "distressed" school district, the powers that be, including Corbett, let this injustice stand.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 8, 2013 1:36 pm

Democrats destroyed the city schools WE have great schools in hte burbs. The charters are good schools with less spending.

Philly distorts the numbers by not counting spending on charters. THey include charter studnets but not the spending which lowers total spending per student. THe REALITY is Philly had a budget of $3.2 billion for 155k students which is over 20k per student.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 8, 2013 1:58 pm

And you think the Republicans are any different? The state has been running the School District of Philadelphia through the SRC for ten years!

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on July 3, 2012 9:00 pm

Really good analysis. Well stated. I have high hopes for Dr. Hite, too. But we all understand the arena in which he will play.

Thanks for taking the time to contribute your knowledge to our discussion.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 3, 2012 10:14 pm

You state that "If Philly teachers contributed at suburban levels, the District could save at least $30 million a year." Can you proved more numbers for this assertion, please? What are those 'suburban levels' that you refer to?

What a great analysis! Thank you for bringing some real numbers into the conversation.

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on July 4, 2012 8:55 am

Yes, thank you for the stats. Where would we find/what was your source, for the State per student funding? It is easier to find the total per pupil spending, but that would include the local and Federal contributions.

Interesting comparison at: http://febp.newamerica.net/ of the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh districts. Pittsburgh has only 27,945 students vs Philadelphia's 165,694. It has 21.5% Special Ed vs Philadelphia's 15.8%; Perhaps this accounts for some of the per pupil discrepancy?

Submitted by KathleenMelville (not verified) on July 4, 2012 8:46 am

While the data provided here angers me for all the obvious reasons, I'm also concerned about the who and when of this analysis. I thank Mr. Churchill for contributing, but I wonder why this kind of incisive critique and crucial advocacy is not coming from within Philly's education community. I understand that Mr. Churchill's position at the Public Interest Law Center lends itself to the kind of research and advocacy presented here, and as a teacher, I know that we have very limited time and energy to devote to the research and advocacy necessary to counter the rampant misconceptions about Philly's plight. But I see a real need for this type of work to be happening within our community, and I wonder how we can make it happen. Why wasn't the PFT trumpeting this data from the moment the District announced the shortfall? How can we strengthen alliances among folks like Mr. Churchill, parents, students, and teachers and raise a louder, swifter, and more impactful voice to defend our schools?

Submitted by Dale Mezzacappa on July 4, 2012 11:00 am

The main source of the numbers cited above is the PA Department of Education (PDE) website called "Summaries of Annual Financial Report Data," which presents per student revenue and expenditure data for every Pennsylvania school district for the past several
years. It can be found at:

http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/summaries_of_an...

Another PDE site called "Financial Data Elements" has information on every PA school district's enrollment, real estate tax rates, tax wealth,and other useful data:

http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/financial_data_...

 

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 4, 2012 12:57 pm

Philly teachers are 62 out of the 65 school districts in PA when it comes to the pay scale. If people expect Philly teachers to pay for some of their health care like suburban teachers do then pay us the same wages you pay the suburban teachers. We do the same job with alot less supplies and in a far harder environment for less money. Let's make an unattractive job even less attractive.

Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on July 4, 2012 1:21 pm

Many suburban districts also provide health care for life. This is a very significant benefit that we do not have in Philadelphia.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 5, 2012 8:13 pm

Excellent post. Exactly what I was thinking.

Submitted by Milsy (not verified) on July 4, 2012 1:17 pm

My forced transfer was postponed. Now I think I'm gonna be laid off because I checked the vacancy list and 70 percent of the positions are filled. No way am I going to the leftover "bad" schools. I'll substitute.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 4, 2012 1:18 pm

That comment makes NO sense? You won't go to the "bad" schools, where you could actually do some good with the teaching skills that God gave you with the kids that really need you, BUT you will simply sit around on your butt, read the papers and be treated like dirt as a sub and blame the PFT because you refused a job. Sounds like you are the type that gives all of us a bad name with the public.

Submitted by Truth (not verified) on July 4, 2012 4:13 pm

I completely agree. You're not in teaching, especially in Philadelphia, for the right reasons. Enjoy substituting.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 9, 2012 12:10 pm

When I went to the pick session on callback from layoff last fall, this was a common attitude. I saw 3 people quit rather than go to the schools that were left.

But-- a more common attitude was trying to figure out which schools had a stable administration, programs that are actually useful, and smaller class sizes.

Part of the SRCs plan is to make teaching in Philly completely impossible for teachers who actually want to be here. You can't teach 35 kids in a class with a tyrant principal. You get shuffled around for 3 or 4 years to schools like that, and most teachers would flee.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 4, 2012 2:22 pm

What is your content area that your forced transfer was postponed in?
As for layoffs, the SDP should have advised you of a layoff, if was to executed, by 6-30-12 as the contract states,but then again,you are dealing with the SDP.

My forced transfer was postponed. Now I think I'm gonna be laid off because I checked the vacancy list and 70 percent of the positions are filled. No way am I going to the leftover "bad" schools. I'll substitute.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 5, 2012 6:22 am

You might like the rest of the state to give Philadelphia more money. But they won't. And they shouldn't as long as Philly refuses to fix simple things in its control- like collecting property taxes from long-term deadbeats.

Arguments like this are an excuse for doing nothing. Blaming other people. The argument is designed to shirk any accountability by creating a list of demands that will never be met.

The rest of the state absolutely won't ensure that Philadelphia schools get the same amount as Lower Merion, etc., districts that are in the top 1% nationally for spending. The suburbs spend more on education because they are much wealthier.

They are much wealthier for a lot of reasons, but for most of the last 60 years Philadelphia has done everything it can to drive taxpayers and jobs out of the city. It has succeeded in creating an island of relative poverty, despite its built-in advantages (like being able to suck commuter tax out of the surrounding counties). After some brief efforts at reform, the pols here are reverting to form, increasing taxes and doing nothing to improve the efficiency of the already massive bureaucracy they administer.

School funding has increased over 100% since the SRC takeover in 2001 while inflation is up around 31%. Where did all of this money go and what did we get for it?

When you can answer that question, maybe people elsewhere in the state will send more money.

Submitted by MBA to M'Ed mom (not verified) on July 6, 2012 1:04 am

I grew up in the more affluent suburbs surrounding Philadelphia, and I don't see the connection?? Why shouldn't the SRC which is responsible for the PSD spend an equitable amount on each Philly student, as compared to other students in the state of Pennsylvania? It's a STATE, not Philly board running the PSD, why would the state starve us, unless the state thinks so little of the students in Philly.

I heard a rumor that Govenor Corbet allocated money that the SRC could have used for Philly students to a capital plan to build more prisons based on the PSSA scores of Philly 3 graders? If that rumor is true, I guess that's why the state which would include Governor Corbett and the SRC feels Philly's education dollars are better spent...building prisons to house our students...

But I do agree with you on one point, it makes no sense as to why property taxes are not collected by the city as they should be? That's money just sitting there, they could be used by the schools.

It seems pretty simple to me, the property taxes of a community pay for the community school, so if Philly is running the school district, then the lack of $ should be blamed on Philly, but when it's the state running the district, then the state is responsible for providing an equitable education based on state average spending, the state shouldn't be punishing the children of this city because they don't like how the city raises revenue, the children are entitled to a decent public education.

Why does it make me think of my dad's stories of the reasons that were given for segregation in Mississipi when he was growing up...that black neighborhoods were poor so of course their schools would be also, he remembers being told that he would not be anything more than a janitor, he remembers watching the white kids ride to school on a school bus as he trudged his 5 mile trek to his dilapidated school with no supplies, etc...

just something to think about...

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 6, 2012 3:33 pm

It makes no sense until you consider that NOT collecting the overdue property taxes might actually be part of the master plan to hasten the demise of the District and accelerate the privatization of it. It's horrific to think that this may be the case, but after reading the article about Nowak (which, by the way, everyone should read, because even if a fraction of it is true, it's sickening), no theory seems too bizarre.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 9, 2012 6:07 am

Such a plot would require competence and foresight that is far beyond anything city government or its pols have to offer.

There is a very simple answer to "Why?"

City council buys votes from deadbeats and "contributions" from developers by exempting them from paying taxes or rather exempting them from the consequences of not paying taxes.

In most non-third world locales, this would be criminal. In Philly, it is just the way the machine does its business.

Submitted by Timothy Boyle on July 5, 2012 10:04 am

It might be useful to explain how close Philadelphia got to reducing the difference in spending between itself and the surrounding districts in the time between 2001 and now instead of saying funding increased 100%. Surely you don't suggest that the School District got increased funding in a vacuum?

Submitted by Conservative (not verified) on July 5, 2012 6:44 pm

The schools should be cut 30%

Submitted by Ron Whitehorne on July 7, 2012 8:03 am

Thanks for this piece, Mike.   Good job.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 7, 2012 10:32 am

The unions have already been part of the solution. 32BJ has made major concessions, but the SRC is not willing to accept them. It is clear that they intend to pursue their plan to outsource these jobs.

The PFT has given millions from its Health and Welfare Fund.

And the teachers who spend hundreds of dollars every year for classroom supplies and now PAPER have contributed mightily.

Lisa Haver

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 9, 2012 11:15 am

Didn't the PFT just temporarily 'defer' payments, not stop or gave them up? I am not saying it's not useful, but it is definitely different than contributing to healthcare or taking a pay cut, or freezing raises or truly suspending contributions to the fund.

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on July 7, 2012 8:15 pm

"The governor’s 2013 budget proposes 4 percent state funding increases for school districts like Lower Merion, Colonial, Upper Dublin, Hatboro, and Radnor, but just 1 percent for Philadelphia."

--

On what planet is Corbett living? Since when would any governor with a bit of sense increase funding for wealthy suburban districts, including Lower Merion, which spends the most per pupil of any district in the state?!?! Oh, that's right, Corbett doesn't care about Philadelphia....

Submitted by Ken Derstine on July 7, 2012 9:36 pm

Remember the $1 billion statewide cut for education Corbett made in the just ended fiscal year? The budget where he increased prison spending by $700 million including building three new prisons, two of them private, for profit institutions? Look at how the cuts fell hardest on low income districts which were already inequitably funded!

http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2011/08/poor_schools_hit_hard...

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on July 7, 2012 8:05 pm

Dear. Mr. Churchill,
Is the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia planning on suing the Commonwealth in order to give Philadelphia at least as much of an increase as districts like Lower Merion? Couldn't a 1% raise for Philadelphia be discriminatory since other districts are receiving 4% increases? Is someone suing the state for allowing Philadelphia's students to receive 20% less in education funding?

EGS

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 8, 2013 1:22 pm

Sounds good but your numbers are wrong. PHIlly distorts the spending totals. Philly school budget was $3.2 billion for 155k students which is over 20k per student.

Philly distorts the numbers by not counting spending at charters. THAt is a FACT! Philly counts the charter students in the totals but not the spending. WHy is that? In the suburban districts they take total spending divided by total students and that is their spending per student. Philly takes total spending, subtracts spending on charters and then divided by total students. The only purpose is to lower spending totals per student.

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