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District shortfall grows, could hit $282 million

By Dale Mezzacappa on Jul 6, 2012 02:54 PM

The School District's projected shortfall for 2012-13 could go as high as $282 million, officials said Friday, adding that they are reluctant to borrow more than the $218 million they've already planned on -- but may have to.

"There's a deepening in the deficit we're projecting for this fiscal year," said School Reform Commissioner Feather Houstoun.

The potential shortfall grew because City Council did not approve a thorough citywide tax reassessment, called the Actual Value Initiative (AVI), that the District had already counted on to bring in an additional $94 million for 2012-13. Council instead approved $40 million in tax increases, half of which comes through an increase in property tax rates for the schools.

But the District also says that it is anticipating the potential loss of as much as $27 million through appeals of these higher taxes, since residents became more aware of the appeals process through the lengthy debate over AVI. This means  that the net gain to the District from City Council's actions could be as low as $13 million.

"As a result of all the attention given to the assessment issue, the City Council did not make provision of an increased amount of appeal activity," said Chief Recovery Office Thomas Knudsen.

The first strategy for making up this worsening shortfall is to step up collection of delinquent taxes, Knudsen said, but the second is "restructuring" or reducing wages and benefit costs. The District is looking to save more than $150 million this year through such restructuring.

The District's blue collar union is being asked to make $50 million in concessions and layoffs could begin as soon as July 15. All 2,700 workers represented by Local 1201 SEIU 32BJ, who are custodians, bus drivers, and maintenance workers, have received layoff notices.

As for the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, by far the District's largest union, its contract does not expire until next summer.

Knudsen said that he is still talking to 32BJ and that "no decisions" have been made on whether to try to reopen talks with the PFT this summer.

But SRC Chairman Pedro Ramos did make a trip to Harrisburg last month seeking legislation from the Republican leadership that would give the SRC the right to cancel contracts and unilaterally set wage and benefit levels. The effort failed when Philadelphia's mostly Democratic delegation, which had been left out of the lobbying, got wind of it.

The District's main strategy right now to keep the gap as small as possible by stepping up collection of delinquent taxes. The District is joining the city in hiring outside firms that specialize in this, which Tom Knudsen said could bring in as much as $150 million for the District. The city is owed more than $500 million due to delinquencies.

Knudsen said that he believes the $150 million "is collectible."

"These are no bankruptcies, not vacant lots," he said. "They are relatively new, and we think we have a shot at getting it. ...We are working with the city finance department and revenue bureau, joining forces in terms of the design of this program according to best practices as opposed to relying on liens."

The state budget ultimately approved by the legislature netted the District just $8 million in funds over what had been anticipated, and it got $9 million additional funds through better-than-expected local tax collections, Knudsen said.

The District has already decided to deficit finance for this year, borrowing at least $218 million to balance its budget. It hasn't done that since the 2002 state takeover, which included a special $300 million bond issue.

Houstoun said that while the District has the authority to borrow up to $300 million from the state, it doesn't want to go that high because the resulting funds are a "one-time infusion of money" - and because "that would have to be replaced in subsequent years." Plus, it adds debt service costs to the budget.

"It is better to reduce the deficit as much as we possibly can. We are essentially reaching the end of our capacity to deficit-finance," Houstoun said.

Houstoun said that it had not yet been settled when incoming superintendent William Hite would be officially joining the District and that he'd be "engaged on some level" but not involved in decision-making until that time.

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Comments (73)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 6, 2012 3:53 pm

PLEASE--stop the bullshit. NOBODY with sense is falling for it anymore. This "deficit" was/is orchestrated by the 1% to starve the inner cities and use them as cannon fodder to usher in charters, which of course, are corporations. The US Banks are richer than ever and so is Wall Street. They're making fools of us or trying to.

Submitted by Truth (not verified) on July 7, 2012 9:17 am

You got that right.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 7, 2012 10:12 pm

"The US Banks are richer than ever"

LOL. The largest U.S. banks are all insolvent. Their balance sheets are a complete charade. They carry "assets", i.e. loans at 100% even if they haven't been current in years. Thank the FASB for suspending mark to market accounting. Keep looking for a boogeyman for the fact that governments and individuals borrowed more money than they can ever repay.

Submitted by Maurice (not verified) on July 8, 2012 8:16 am

You're just what they want--too ignorant to see the truth and too stubborn to change your mind. Good luck with that.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 8, 2012 11:18 am

Yes. The worldwide economic slump is all a vast conspiracy to bring down the PFT. The people of Ireland, Italy, Spain, Portugal, etc. all drove the world economy off a cliff with the specific intent of bringing down the PFT. Better get your tin foil hat on so they can't read your mind.

Submitted by Maurice (not verified) on July 8, 2012 12:07 pm

I already have it on, Sally, but thanks for reminding me. Be careful of what you know that just ain't so, sweetie.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 6, 2012 3:12 pm

Corbett's words come out of Houston's mouth. What a waste of protoplasm she is and Pedro is beyond disgraceful. What a disappointment he has become to all people, especially those of color. Talk about Uncle Tom !!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 6, 2012 3:37 pm

I thought we heard this SRC was not going to borrow like others before it. I think we even heard this SRC bash others and throw them under the bus for actions they are now justifying. I guess walking the walk is harder than talking the talk.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 6, 2012 5:47 pm

The property tax in inherently inequitable. It requires property owners to fund the public schools and no one else. It lead to great disparities in money for school districts based on the economic base. It should be replaced with income and sales taxes to fund schools and we would see our way out of the present nightmare.

There was a bill to do this in the legislature this last session.

http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/state/proposed-legislation-wou...

It got tabled.

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on July 6, 2012 10:52 pm

I totally agree that funding should be more equitable. The most equitable way would be to distribute money more at the state level. The current funding formula in PA, which is around 33% state funding and 66% local funding. This formula puts districts like Philadelphia at a complete disadvantage relative to wealthier districts. It would be more equitable to make it 66% from the state and 33% from local districts. But there's no way a bill to make funding more equitable would ever pass through a majority Republican legislature or receive Corbett's signature.

Submitted by Maurice (not verified) on July 8, 2012 2:04 pm

AND that's why the people have a right to demand their rights by any means necessary. Even Aquinas said that nobody was obligated to follow an unjust law and on the contrary was obligated to RESIST that law by any means necessary. This is NOT a complicated subject. If and when Jerry fights this in court and loses, then we will have that right.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 8, 2012 3:47 pm

If I was you I would be careful about making terroristic threats. It is highly illegal and the authorities do not take kindly to it. You are entitled to your opinion, but you are not entitled to choose which laws you want to obey. You are not entitled to incite violence.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 8, 2012 4:40 pm

I guess we should move to the back of the bus.

Submitted by Maurice (not verified) on July 8, 2012 4:04 pm

I'm talking about HUGE marches on Harrisburg and also on 440 with UNION People and others demanding their rights. The last time I checked, this is still the USA and the people have civil rights. Remember a little phrase, "Taxation without Representation etc. " The only power the people have is the power of numbers and we better use it through HUMONGOUS marches on these sites of power or we're all dead meat. Thanks for your concern but I never made terroristic threats. If you were around in the sixties, marches were very effective, let's not forget them. I am talking about gigantic, organized marches, not 15 people at 440 with the PFT not even there.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 8, 2012 5:54 pm

Then get on with it. That way the people can see what you are really about. Lining your pockets on the backs of the taxpayers. It didn't work in Wisconsin and it won't work here.

Submitted by Maurice (not verified) on July 8, 2012 5:12 pm

The moron speaks.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 8, 2012 6:01 pm

The people speak. Your comment shows what you think of the taxpayers who pay your salary. We will not be held hostage by a corrupt government and corrupt government employees.

Submitted by Maurice (not verified) on July 8, 2012 6:59 pm

Dude--I have to assume you are trolling.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 9, 2012 7:28 am

Right on. Taxpayers are good for blank checks and that's it.

The SEIU can determine how many people we should hire and what we should be paid. In the meantime, you taxpayer just STFU and pay your fair share. Philly needs our votes and campaign contributions more than your money. We've been happy to watch as half a million taxpayers left the city. So we're not sweating 500,001.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 9, 2012 9:42 am

Now that you have your layoff notice you should start applying for jobs at the companies that will be taking over your positions once they are privatized. Good luck.

Submitted by Maurice (not verified) on July 9, 2012 11:41 am

Troll.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 9, 2012 2:08 pm

No, it's your turn to teach. I've had enough trying to teach with corrupt administrators and bully principals who can't do their own jobs. You give it a try for a change. This has always been an iffy job to begin with, but privitizing will only make it even more unappealing. There is a popular myth that people are dying to get into teaching. Not anymore and certainly not in Philadelphia. You're going to see the whole system collapse once the newbies get a taste of what urband teaching gigs are really like. They don't even stay that long when times are good.

Submitted by Maurice (not verified) on July 9, 2012 5:32 pm

Of course, you are right BUT ignore trolls.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 8, 2012 10:17 pm

Get ready clown to start teaching in Philly yourself. The district has trouble attracting enough teachers even in the best of times. The current situation and attitudes like yours make an unattractive job even less attractive than before. I think it's only fair that all the bellyachers who complain about unionized teachers should put in a week of class time. Then you'll realize what teachers have been trying to tell you for ages.

Submitted by Maurice (not verified) on July 9, 2012 7:42 am

I agree but he's trolling--just ignore him.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 8, 2012 9:20 pm

Looks like somebody didn't read the Declaration of Independence this 4th of July:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

Submitted by anon (not verified) on July 6, 2012 5:25 pm

that's ok feather, we can go with a one-time infusion to offset your one-time governor's total disdain for all things philadelphian. i vote we max out our borrowing from the state and just stiff 'em when the bill comes due. let 'em come and collect it if they need it.
jerry jordan and all - the longer you sit silently and let them establish the parameters of the dialogue, the more people begin to accept their view of the options and solutions as reality. when does philadelphia sue the state for neglecting its obligation to provide for a free and appropriate education in philadelphia public schools?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 6, 2012 7:22 pm

Anon--I agree and I've been saying it for 2 years now. Why is the PFT just allowing this crap to be unchallenged publicly. It has nothing to do with education and everything to do with making money for the already well off. Does anybody with a brain really believe Nowak gives a rat's ass about ghetto kids? Of course, Jordan needs to start framing our reaction. Jerry--you happen to be the head of the PFT, not just a blogger on this site. Grow a pair or at least 1.

Submitted by Meohme (not verified) on July 7, 2012 12:57 am

Do we really think that Jerry et al care about our plight? It's all about them,their power, control and the perks they get spending our union dues. Wake up teachers, it!s time for a recall.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 7, 2012 12:17 am

While Jerry and the leadership have been in courtooms winning legal challenge after legal challenge and at every rally, protest and city council/SRC meeting, what have YOU been doing? Other than sitting quietly at home complaining on this blog, that is?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 7, 2012 7:49 am

I have been at EVERY Wednesday protest and all but 2 SRC joke meetings. Jerry does not appear for many things and the PFT LAWYERS are doing their job. Jerry doesn't go out in the rain.

Submitted by Ken Derstine on July 7, 2012 7:20 am

You place an awful lot of faith in the courts and Democratic Party politicians. What about putting your trust in the PEOPLE. This narrow definition of trade unionism that we only look out for our wages and benefits and not the community as a whole is killing us. .

Take a look at this Moyers & Company show from Friday, July 6.

Is Labor a Lost Cause?
at Moyers and Company

Exploring if unions can rebound and once again act strongly in the interest of ordinary workers.
Also, don’t miss Bill Moyers commentary about Citizens United.

http://billmoyers.com/episode/full-show-is-labor-a-lost-cause/#disqus_th...

Submitted by Eileen Duffey (not verified) on July 7, 2012 2:49 pm

Thanks Ken. Bill Moyers is excellent. Should be required watching for all union members in Philly.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 7, 2012 10:49 pm

Good point. Most of the PFT membership is now on the beaches of southern New Jersey for the summer waiting for the new money from the money tree. Good luck with that.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 7, 2012 10:56 pm

On the beaches with the PFT leaders. They're already spending the money from the money tree. They don't have to worry about getting laid off.

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on July 8, 2012 3:57 am

I don't know the origins of PFT membership "on the beaches" but some of us are sweltering in Philadelphia trying to support our families and pay our bills. Some of us are taking courses/workshops and others are working so we have enough money to pay for supplies for school in September. Others are working on unit plans for next year as we move to the Common Core Standards (since the SDP Office of Curriculum is providing no support other than documents we can also "google." While there are PFT members who may have the funds to hang at the beach, most of us do not.

Submitted by Maurice (not verified) on July 8, 2012 8:17 am

They're trolls--just ignore them.

Submitted by anon (not verified) on July 8, 2012 1:46 pm

the silence of the other unions, beyond the usual tsk, tsking and their wait and see attitude, regarding maintenance & building engineers union is deafening. my numbers might be off since i'm writing off the top of my head, but if union offered 30 million in concessions for 2700 workers, that averages out to better than 10K per worker and still src is mulling it over? that tells you everything you need to know about their motives. are teachers also prepared to give up 10K plus in salary/benefits? i know i'm not and we make a lot more than cleaning staff. givebacks should've been dead on arrival, but look how corbett and nutter's src lackies have framed the argument. they'll make a token effort to collect overdue property taxes before getting down to the real business at hand which is taking it out of our collective union hides. pft union and others need to flex some joint muscle in support of out brothers and sisters. united we stand. they should surround 440 en masse daily, demanding resignation of src lackey board. they are an embarrassment to the hard working people who made this country what it used to be. no confidence in src. resign!

Submitted by Maurice (not verified) on July 8, 2012 2:16 pm

Of course, I agree and WHY isn't Jordan et al fighting this?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 7, 2012 10:44 pm

Nice idea, except for the problem of reality. Just because the district is "authorized" to borrow 300 Million does mean they can do so in the markets. The PSD is already rated as junk, so borrowing that much would come at prohibitive interest rates. I wonder how many PFT members would buy these bonds? Welcome to the real world, folks.

Submitted by Maurice (not verified) on July 8, 2012 11:45 am

Sounds like a deeper, personal problem, Sparky.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 9, 2012 6:30 am

You (the PSD) received over 100% increase in funding since 2001 when the SRC took over. Inflation ran at 31%. But it is never enough, is it? The state only contributed 33% of that 100% increase.

Recently there was a proposal to decentralize management and lay off employees at 440 broad. You couldn't support that because it is privatization (it isn't).

You can't support reducing the bloated SEIU payroll either. Better hit up your tax base for the third time to insulate unions from economic reality. The purple shirts will be there to cheer the pols on.

You (collectively the Democrats that run Philly) can't stomach even collecting your own property taxes like every other city in the country lest some councilperson deadbeat voter/ contributor gets upset about having to pay $1 in taxes.

But the rest of the state is really to blame for your problems?!?

Go on strike. That's your coup de grace. What little sympathy the rest of the state has for Philadelphia will finally be exhausted.

And after this stream of tax increases to pay for this charade, I will be joining the rest of the state as an ex-Philadelphia taxpayer...

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 9, 2012 9:06 am

The state of Pennsylvania commissioned a study in 2007 that proved that our spending is 20% lower than the state average. In that year, we spent less than $10k per student, but their costing-out study demonstrated a need of nearly $15k per student. Students who are Special Ed, ELLs, high-poverty, etc are more expensive to educate. This is because they need more services. Like food.

Next, if you look at STATEWIDE spending data, you see a statewide trend of declining enrollment and increased spending. Over the past 3 years, we've increased statewide per-student funding by almost $1,000 and lost 30,000 students. So if you want to escape that trend, you better be moving out of PA, not just Philadelphia.

We went from $8,304 in 2000 to $13,304 per student in 2010. This is EXACTLY the same pattern you see in statewide spending, except we consistently have less than average.

The taxes paid by people in Philadelphia County towards school increased 14% between 2000 and 2010, from $3297 to $3764. Maybe you should move to Central Bucks, where the tax burden increased from $8414 to $10417? Or you could try Hatboro, where it went from $10732 to $12297. Or perhaps Lower Merion, where it went from $16076 to $24306? Maybe Upper Darby, where it's only $6860?

The only place within 40 miles of Philadelphia area with lower school taxes is:
Chester-Upland.

Make sure you invite us all to your housewarming when you move there.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 10, 2012 3:22 am

Why does the Inquirer report that we have doubled spending. I have seen a higher number on the per student spend also in the $17k range along with this $13,5k

Re your comment, the wage tax is a bigger deal than even the property taxes. Property taxes are just the nail in the coffin. Of course, this isn't the schools really, but general waste in the city. Lower property taxes used to somewhat make up for the wage tax. The handwriting is on the wall that the Philly pols will push the property tax to high levels.

The other difference is the product. I would happily pay lower merion property taxes for lower merion quality schools. But paying high property taxes so the SEIU can keep its employment at their desired level is just stupid.

The school district needs to convince people it is spending money effectively before whining for more. The good news is with the history of squandering money, a little progress would go a long way.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 10, 2012 12:07 pm

There is no $17000 per student. The numbers are used are straight from the State and readily available on their website. Corbett cut almost 200M in state funding for the 2011 school year.

The wage tax has nothing to do with the school system. Very little of our funding comes from local sources, and what does is mostly property taxes.

What is unfair is to ask the blue-collar workers to bear the brunt of the budget woes that are directly and in no uncertain way caused by the State of Pennsylvania.

It is also unfair to ask homeowners in Philadelphia to make up the difference, because it is pretty much impossible to do so. The SRC is a state organization trying to strongarm money out of Philadelphia when they should be providing adequate funding to the district they took over.

As for the level of employment for SEIU: my school of 200+ students shared a single custodian with another school. It's not like we are swimming in extra staff.

Remember when you talk about the school district, you are talking about a state-run government agency that answers to Governor Corbett only. Please keep that in mind when you vote.

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on July 6, 2012 10:38 pm

Can someone pinpoint the source of this deficit? Is it due to debt service, rising pension costs, charter school payments, rising enrollment in publicly-funded schools, or all of the above?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 7, 2012 8:03 am

Charter schools, definitely. Public school enrollment is shrinking. Corbett cut the state subsidy that paid districts back partways for per-pupil payments to charter schools and it has cost us (and not really any other district) hundreds of millions.

Not pension costs-- they restructured those so that we pay more into our pension and get less back awhile ago.

We are paying huge debts that Ackerman, Vallas, et al incurred under the "supervision" of previous SRCs. A lot of that money went to shady outside contracts, lobbying, and $12 slices of cake.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 7, 2012 10:09 am

If I have a million dollars but I say I have 1 dollar, how much money do I REALLY have? These cretins are just trying to starve the real schools and SO FAR, they've got away with it. Corbett is pure evil but Pedro and the boys are skunks too, following the script side up by Nowak et al.

Submitted by Maurice (not verified) on July 7, 2012 8:44 pm

ALL by design too. Making a farce out of money designed for urban kids who need it badly. All orchestrated for years by the corporate types of the 1% think tanks like Nowak's gang. There is NO real financial crisis in the good ole USA and CERTAINLY nothing even remotely caused by the poor or working class. Shock and Awe--Naomi Klein. WE ALL better stand and fight back !! Their goal is to destroy the Middle Class and make everybody poor, like one, big, WalMart society. I would seriously rather be dead than live under their thumb like dogs. Yes, I agree--they really do want to turn the clock back 125 years.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 7, 2012 10:21 pm

Pinpoint it? Where the hell have you been? Whe had a collapse of a massive, worldwide housing bubble. At the height, we had almost a trillion dollars a year in U.S. consumer spending from cashout refis. That money is gone and cannot be repaid. The jobs and income and sales taxes associated with it are long gone. At the same time, the PSD budget has doubled since 2001even with declining enrollment. Your healthcare costs have more than doubled since 2001. You better wake up to the reality of the situation. The fact that you think government workers should be immune to the economic times shows how deluded you really are. The government only takes in money to distribute off of the backs of the private sector. If the private sector is hurting, you will too. Wake up!

Submitted by Maurice (not verified) on July 8, 2012 11:05 am

Do you REALLY believe any of your drivel? Good talking points though !

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 7, 2012 10:25 am

Mr.Knudsen tell the media that the District is talking with 1201 32Bj as of yesterday about the gives back that the District needs to stop the layoff of our workers. The truth is they are not talking with our union they want to privatize along with Mr.Jeff Cardwell . We are the people that provides a great service to the District and are the least paid employee's. But in management the side of Facilities and Operations you have manager's, supervisor's, foreman's and F.A.C that didn't receive a layoff notice like the whole 1201 union did a year ago. If the District really wants to balance their budget they needs to look at the management of Facilities and Operations for help, their salaries are more then the worker's in 1201 32 Bj. So when do they start receiving their letter of being layoff Mr. Knudsen

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 7, 2012 12:26 pm

What a joke. The School District,Ramos, and Knudsen are bold face liars. I am a 1201 32bj member and our union has offered the District a package that includes almost 30 million in concession. 30 MILLION. Knudsen says he is talking to us,what a two face liar and Cardwell has been trying to tear apart the Union since he was given his job through Nutter. Thats right. Cardwell was let go by the city of Philadelphia because of cutback and his friend Nutter found him a job at the School District. Its who you know and not what you know.

Since when did having a job with decent wages and benefits become a crime. Why are the unions in the school district being treated like we did something wrong ? We are not the ones that put the district in financial woes. Its the LEADERS of the district that are responsible.

Then there is the head of Maintenance in the Scool District, Robert Hunter. WOW how this man has changed. Here is a guy who was an electrican who never worked past 2:30 any day. Ask his old coworkers they will tell you. He was too busy doing side work and buying rental properties and using District materials to do the work in those house. Enough of that though.

Well it will be interesting to see what happens this coming week and see if there is more double talk from the District or if they WANT to try and work something out with 32bj. The majority of the members are hard working people who take pride in there job and enjoy what they are doing. They are under paid and we are under staffed but we try and make up for that by doing a little extra.

I wish all the luck to all the Unions in the District and hope things can be worked out and everyone keeps there job. We are not the enemy. We are your employees.

Thanks

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 7, 2012 2:36 pm

I wish you and the members of your union all of the best. I think the world of our building staff, and I can't imagine the school year without them. I hope that I don't have to!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 7, 2012 6:32 pm

Kundsen and Pedro are more than liars, MUCH more and everybody with sense knows it. They're trying to destroy the working class people in the city but they're not going to get away with it in the end.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 7, 2012 6:51 pm

The problem with Knudsen and other's with zero knowledge of what it takes to clean (inside of a building that is nearly 100 degrees), maintain, and get a building ready for students to return in September is that they have never seen what the operation looks like. Furthermore, they don't give a damn about the operation or students (poor and minority) in the city of Philadelphia. Knudsen et al., care about lining their pockets today and walking off into the sunset with a huge pension tomorrow while the honest hardworking people struggle to make ends meet.

People like Hunter make it bad for those who work hard and take ownership in their work as part of a team that supports students. The MAJORITY of 1201 32bj members are hardworking decent folk who go beyond the call of duty everyday. When schools open in September it is going to be a horrendous tragedy of errors and everyone - administrators, students, parents, and community at large will pay the price for decisions made by the moronic SRC that should have been thrown out with Archie and Arlene.

This Governor, the SRC, Mayor Nutter, Knudsen, and the newly hired superintendent are the grease that is turning the wheel that will destroy public education, for purpose of wiping out unions to get to the bottom line--wipeout of pensions! Not before they get their full pensions, of course. What will Nutter and Knudsen get in their DROP? What will be the amount of Hite's buyout in two years after he has accomplish his task? What's the going rate for a hitman these days?

Submitted by Maurice (not verified) on July 8, 2012 2:34 pm

It has NOTHING to do with cleaning a school and EVERYTHING to do with killing your rights to be a livable wage-----EVERYTHING. The 1% ers want to make all of us poor to add to their profit margin. It's not even remotely hard to understand and Obama is part of the problem.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 9, 2012 7:31 am

My perception is that the SEIU was instrumental in pushing for the third tax increase. And that council will try to pay them off by giving the district the money only contingent on it giving the SEIU what it wants. Which means the rest of the budget will not be much better off for the $40mm.

My perception is also that the $30mm in concessions aren't really concessions but just count some reductions (though not proportional to the PSD's reduced need) in staff that are needed due to reduced facilities and students moving to charters.

Please feel free to correct this.

My conclusion is that treating reducing redundant staff to reflect shrinking enrollment is not a concession. And the notion that public service unions should define the size of the city work force is just plain stupid, guaranteed to create fiscal crises like the one we're seeing.

Submitted by KEVIN R. MAGUIRE (not verified) on July 12, 2012 7:32 am

WOW why don't you strap a set of balls on and use your name. No it is easier to remain anonymous. You make statements and and can't back anything up.You are a tipical gutless loud mouth

Submitted by Maurice (not verified) on July 7, 2012 6:33 pm

The truth is almost all that slumlord money is owned by the rich in the city, likely many of City Council etc. so that money ain't never goin to be collected. This is all one big disgraceful, money grab masquerading as a legitimate problem. I am ashamed for the city and afraid for our kids who are being abused as usual so the rich can get richer.

Submitted by LS Teach (not verified) on July 8, 2012 11:42 am

Why hasn't anyone questioned Pedro Ramos about his trip to Harrisburg and his quest to gain leverage to cancel contracts? Doesn't this seem unethical? Many feel that Ramos is a person with integrity, but going behind everyone's back seems to contradict that feeling.

Submitted by Maurice (not verified) on July 8, 2012 12:44 pm

I agree completely. Why hasn't he drawn incredible criticism for pulling that crap yet promising integrity and transparency ??? What a scum bag, he is. Were he and Robert Archie separated at birth?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 8, 2012 11:59 am

To the leader of the School District how do you talk about being transparent with the public about how the District is going to be moving forward on the education side of the fence but in Facilities and Operation there no transparency. Mr Jeff Cardwell has been place there because the City of Philadelphia didn't have a place for him there so our Great Mayor used his power to place him in the School District and since he's been there over 3years has done nothing to change the stat-us quo of how Facilities and Operations is run. Every time we read the papers the School District is always talking about restructuring on the education side but the place they really needs to concentrate on is in Facilities and Operations in restructuring because just look at what Mr. Cardwell has done, he promoted Mr. Hunter to be the manager of Maintenance without a college degree. the late time I look the District was giving layoff notices to educator with degree's but in Facilities and Operations that is NOT the case. After receiving our letter of being layoff what a joke. and that not the half of it the District has lost a grievance with the building engineer at a cost of over 4.7 millions dollars and these are the people's that are in charge, your manager's in Facilities and Operations. So to the leaders of the School District you need to look at this BIG problem over in Facilities and Operation . Thanks

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 8, 2012 2:49 pm

Perhaps the district can collect all the money Universal owes!!! Perhaps make the Universal pay for their own facility staff as well as food staff!! Perhaps the district can charge rent to charters for using school district buildings!
I just got the district millions with those three suggestions.

Submitted by Maurice (not verified) on July 8, 2012 2:02 pm

YES< another fine example of the hypocrisy we're dealing with and yet some numbnuts on this site don't see it.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 11, 2012 10:06 am

I am a member of 32BJ, n the SRC are a bunch of crums, n liars. Our union has put together numerous proposals on saving money for the district, n the SRC wont sit n listen. They've already been bought out by the private sector that want to get rid of us. It doesn't help matters that u have a head of maintenance (Bob Hunter) who wont stand up for his people, n Jeff Cardwell who was a flunky at the Housing Authority( got let go n got a cushy 100 k job here from Nutter) who think privatization is the way to go.

Submitted by Pseudonymous (not verified) on July 11, 2012 11:13 am

Mitt Romney just said some pretty terrible things when he spoke to the NAACP about how awesome the charter schools in Philadelphia are and how he can't wait to tie federal education dollars to students so that those, also, are taken away from the public schools and sent to his friends in the charters.

Submitted by anon (not verified) on July 11, 2012 12:51 pm

and how different is that from obama's stance? spare me the nuances.
that's the problem. we have no party representing our side.
sure corbett's against us, but what has nutter and his src delegates ever done for us?
i keep seeing unanimous votes for the dark side.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 18, 2012 5:11 pm

Wow here we go again the school district faces a big deficit over 282 millions dollars. And to make things bad they even lost a case between 28 high school engineers mostly African Americans and now they don't want to paid for their mistakes. Their top 2 manager's Jeffery Caldwell and Ralph Zambrano has lost this grievance because they didn't think that these top engineers mostly black, didn't deserve to be paid for their mistakes again these are the people that our leaders of the school district place in charge, because of their incompetence. Wow

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 18, 2012 5:02 pm

Are you talking about the 4.7 million dollar that the engineers won over 5 years ago because Ralph and Jeff didn't want the high school engineers in the building with the cleaning contractor. Is the union of these engineers working with Ralph and Jeffery so that they can delay these engineers from receiving their money. Do I smell a law suit. Gee what a shame!

Submitted by GratzMan (not verified) on September 1, 2012 12:18 am

Bitter teachers and ignoramuses always seem to be hatin' on charter schools. Some charters may be shady, but to clump them all together is wrong. If anyone is confused or feels like arguing about what Mastery is doing, you should respond. By the way, if you're whining about the situation of the PHL school system, you should not be teaching here. Teaching in a tough city is not a regular job. I think that a good city teacher teaches precisely because the system is so corrupt. Duh, the system is corrupt and we all know that the 1% rules. Shall we cry about it or shall we teach?

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on September 1, 2012 6:09 am

I'm neither bitter nor ignorant. That said, (1) What is "Mastery doing?" and (2) Is the only reason you teach because "a city teacher teaches precisely because the system is so corrupt?"

Yes, the system is corrupt - from Duncan/Race to the Top to Corbett/Vouchers/Privatization/massive cuts to SDP/Contracts/some administrators to some charter schools /operators to some teachers (yes, the type of clock in and clock out and pad their paychecks with any opportunity possible). Do we ignore it or try to change it? Do you accept that "the 1% rules?"

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 1, 2012 12:04 pm

Clumping public schools and the teachers in them is also wrong. Just because one teaches in the inner city does not mean one can't be critical (not whining) of the way things are run. Many of idiotic mistakes the school administration could have been avoided had those in charged bothered to listen to their own teachers. Instead they continue squander millions on quack solutions provided outside "consultants". The fact that the corrupt administration will NOT ALLOW EVEN ONE TEACHER LEAD SCHOOL to exist in the district is proof that they are not really interested in possible solutions, but implementing their own agenda for personal profit. God forbid a teacher lead school achieves its goals because then the whole charter myth will be questioned by the general public.

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