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Hite: School budgets down 25 percent without more funds

By Dale Mezzacappa on Apr 18, 2013 06:24 PM
Photo: Benjamin Herold

Superintendent William Hite (right) and Chief Financial Officer Matthew Stanski present the District's grim budget news.

Facing a $300 million structural deficit and still uncertain whether it will get the increased revenue and labor concessions it is seeking, the School District is asking schools to prepare to operate next year with a principal and a bare-bones allotment of teachers – and just about nothing else.

That means the contractual maximum class size in every classroom – 33 students in grades 4-12 and 30 in K-3. It means no dedicated money for guidance counselors, interscholastic sports, extracurricular activities, librarians, art or music.

No money, even, for secretaries.

“We can’t afford anything else,” said Superintendent William Hite in presenting the doomsday scenario at a press briefing Thursday afternoon, just before he went to tell his principals the grim news via webcast.

District Chief Financial Officer Matthew Stanski presented the budget to the School Reform Commission at its meeting Thursday night.

The school budgets that principals will get Friday are effectively reduced by $220 million, 22 to 25 percent from their already austere levels. It will stay that way unless the District gets the $120 million in additional revenue it is seeking from the state, $60 million from the city, and $133 million in concessions -- about 10 percent in wage and benefit costs -- from the teachers’ union.

“This situation is dire, it’s real, and it’s why we’re required to ask for sacrifices from all parties,” Hite said. The District’s blue-collar union last year agreed to about 10 percent in wage and benefit concessions.

The District has begun negotiations with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, whose contract expires at the end of August.

For the union, it could come down to a tradeoff between the salary and benefit concessions and what Hite described as “massive” layoffs. The class-size maximums specified in the contract are generally much higher than the norm in most suburban districts. Many principals were able to use discretionary funds to reduce class size in their schools below the contracted maximum, but will not have the discretionary funds to do that now.

But to maintain the relatively high class-size maximums mandated in the contract, Hite said, “requires us to eliminate some of the other things” -- sports, libraries, music -- considered essential in most school districts.

Hite did make it clear that even if the District gets what it wants in money and concessions, it will not be enough to give students a "quality" education.

"That is just to eliminate a deficit … even with the $304 million … we still need additional resources to actually provide students with what I believe would be a quality educational experience," he said. "I want to see art and music in every school, I want to see language in the elementaries, I want to see career and technical education programming for our high school students.”

Down to what’s mandated

But without the additional revenue and the labor concessions, schools are down to barely being able to fulfill state and contractual mandates, along with a few non-mandated services including kindergarten and school security that the District believes are indispensable.

The budget would maintain the current level of school police, but would reduce nursing services, which were already slashed, from one nurse for every 1,000 students to one for every 1,500. It will continue to fund special education and services for non-English speakers, Hite said.

UPDATE: In addition to the school-based cuts, the District’s budget reduces an already decimated central office by $23 million. Central office had about 800 positions in 2011 and is now around 450. It is still unknown how many more jobs will be lost, but ultimately central office will account for only 2 percent of the operating budget -- “unheard of for a district the size of ours,” Hite said.

That makes it hard to provide basic functions. The charter office, which oversees 84 charter schools, has only three people, for instance.

The budget, he said, “is grounded in reality and based on the revenue we know we have. Too many budgets and contracts in the past had been based on what we had hoped for and not necessarily what was real.”

The huge budget hole is the product of a two-year-long crisis primarily brought about by sharp drops in state and federal aid. There was the end of the federal stimulus and decisions in Harrisburg to reduce the basic education subsidy and eliminate such big-ticket line items like reimbursement for charter costs, all of which meant that Philadelphia saw a more than $200 million reduction in revenue at a time when fixed costs were rising.

Last year, the District borrowed $300 million to make ends meet, but it has exhausted its borrowing power and doesn’t want to do that again in any case.  

“To continue to borrow is to continue to put the District on a path to bankruptcy,” Hite said.

The structural deficit -- the amount where expenses exceed revenues -- is $304 million, but the District expects to end this fiscal year with a reserve that it will use to reduce the actual shortfall to $242 million.

Hite said that the District’s options for reductions are limited. Hite said that in its $2.5 billion budget, about $1 billion is mandated and nondiscretionary -- the costs it must pay to charter schools, $729 million, and its debt service, $280 million.

At the same time, it is facing increases in fixed costs. For instance, the state is requiring that contributions to the teachers’ retirement fund will go from 12 to 16 percent of teacher salaries.

Mayor Nutter is working to raise the $60 million asked of the city and to raise the money from Harrisburg, which has so far been cool to noncommittal on the District’s request.

Hite is hopeful that Harrisburg, historically hostile to requests from Philadelphia, is taking the request seriously.

“Individuals are listening,” he said, but are also reiterating that the commonwealth has its own budget challenges.

At the SRC meeting, Hite asked everyone in the room to “plead” for the additional revenue.

After listening to Stanski’s presentation, Commissioner Feather Houstoun said: “We need all the help we can get.”

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Comments (140)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 18, 2013 7:20 pm
Don't worry though because they just approved $15 million for a new cyber school. Ridiculous!
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on April 18, 2013 7:38 pm
Exactly. They think we're all a bunch of boobs who don't get cable and have no calculator.
Submitted by AnneGem (not verified) on April 20, 2013 9:29 am
Fight back by engaging in city and state budget battles. Join One Philadelphia, a close ally of PCAPS. Here is our tax fairness platform which could raise up to $500 million. But if we don't fight back, our neighborhood schools will be destroyed. http://fightforphilly.org/2013/04/12/one-philadelphia-a-growing-coalitio...
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on April 20, 2013 8:52 pm
Yes, we all need to grow a pair and now, not later. You're right--ALL inner cities will be giant wastelands if the people don't fight back---underline fight !! Singing Kumbaya and playing mouse ain't the answer. Marching with masses and vigor and anger and angst and urgency and hostility may be enough to get some traction on which to build. Jerry, are you there, do you care??
Submitted by Darnelx (not verified) on April 20, 2013 7:06 pm
Philadelphia's new LOW is our man HITE!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 20, 2013 11:20 pm
Cyber charter schools have been proven to not work. The students that I have taught that have transferred to cyber schools were my worst students. They did not have the discipline to attend class regularly, let alone get the work done. How in the world could they have the self-discipline to work on their computer all day? My principal gave us our proposed budget for next year. The district somehow said that our enrollment will decrease by over 100 for next school year, when in fact, we are increasing by over 100. We have 2400 students and will decrease to 88 teachers. The school district already refuses to fund our school adequately with NTAs and technology, and now they propose this. All I can do is hope it is a scare tactic to get teachers to retire/leave.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 22, 2013 10:50 am
THE SRC needs to go. Hite is underhanded and sneaky. Where else can you find FOUR TOP PAID DISTRICT positions than at on-ramps without even posting to those who pay taxes or have committed their lives to the children and families, for this fine educational process. Is Hite taking a cut? When the city raises in crime, will the government realize this may not be a good idea or should we continue to spend money on steroids and legal cases instead of education!!!
Submitted by Helen Gym on April 18, 2013 7:20 pm

Could the district please clarify how the following expenses are mandated?

  • executive salary raises?
  • $805K for TNTP recruitment?
  • $1M for City Year?
  • $4M for the BRT and $600K for the Controller's office staff?
  • $139M for charter expansion?
  • $15M for a virtual cyber contract with Chester County IU?
  • $1.7M for Hogan Lovells international law firm OUTSIDE the legal contracts of $10M+ appproved just a few months earlier?
  • formation of new offices like the Transformation Management Office? 
  • a $1M+ increase in Maramont's single-bid $30M+ food services contract even though the number of students has declined?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 18, 2013 7:48 pm
I like your points, but is your question rhetorical? Do you actually think the district is going to honestly, i.e. without lying or evading, address those issues? I don't. The SRC and District is corrupt. Voters allowed this to happen with their ballots or apathy.
Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on April 18, 2013 10:30 pm
Add to your points the 12 month contract for principals (unless that is what you meant by executive salary raises)
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 18, 2013 10:26 pm
There is no accountability or oversight. I don't understand how or why this is allowed to happen.
Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on April 19, 2013 4:03 am
Thank you for the list of alleged "non-discretionary" spending by the SRC/Hite/Khin. I would add the $11 Million for Pearson which I assume is for benchmark testing. Does anyone know what was paid to Pearson for 2012-2013? FYI - The 3rd set of benchmark tests were originally scheduled for the week of April 22. They are not "optional" - school staff may administer the test and then correct the test themselves. Was Pearson paid to process these tests? (We were not told why the benchmarks were canceled. It may be because 5th and 8th graders are taking the science PSSA. It may be money. Who knows? While I'm glad we don't have administer the tests and the students don't have to take them, if the District paid for them to be processed, they certainly wasted some money.)
Submitted by tom-104 on April 19, 2013 6:35 am
At the SRC meeting Thursday night, the SRC approved a $10, 918.190 contract for five years with Pearson for the Instructional Management System - SchoolNet. This includes the student data management including the report card system. Also, they passed a grant for Pearson for $98,400 for Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol Training for ELL Instruction in 2013 - 2014.
Submitted by tom-104 on April 19, 2013 6:57 am
Diane Ravitch has this last night on her blog: How Pearson Cheats on State Tests from Diane Ravitch’s blog A teacher in upstate New York wrote me to say that the state English language arts test for 8th grade (written by Pearson) contained a passage that his students had read a week earlier—in a Pearson 8th grade textbook! The story is “Why Leaves Turn Color in Fall,” by Diane Ackerman. The story appears on page 540 of the Pearson textbook. Moral of the story: if you want your students to succeed on the state tests written by Pearson, be sure to buy the Pearson textbooks. http://dianeravitch.net/2013/04/18/how-pearson-cheats-on-state-tests/
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on April 19, 2013 10:19 am
YES, YES, YES and YES, so what do we do to stop it?? We're just regurgitating the same old, same old horror stories-----------to what end?? To flap our collective lips?? to one up one another?? HOW DO WE STOP IT ??
Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on April 19, 2013 1:59 pm
Joe, You have said this on this site over and over again. And you are correct. You are impatient and you are right to be impatient. Those of us watching the district unravel with the tacit agreement of our elected/ appointed leaders are sick with the realization of what is about to unfurl. The rage needs to spread by an enlightened, aware citizenry. Last evening, we saw some signs that the grassroots folks are beginning to open their eyes. This Sunday (April 21)thousands of Philadelphians will meet with Dr. Hite and the mayor at 3pm at Deliverance Evangelical Church. They are members of 39 varied faith communities. They want jobs and excellent public schools. Bring your friends. This is the first time I have known of thousands of everyday people speaking up for the justice in this city. This may be the beginning of the movement you want Joe. Joe, temper your knee jerk urge to to putdown the attempt to demand change in a peaceful assembly. Consider the possibility that one of these days tens of thousands of Philadelphians of every race and class will join together for what is right. This is THE ONLY chance to turn things around. I now await your pleasant, measured response Joe :)
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on April 19, 2013 2:00 pm
I just got back from having a rather invasive, unpleasant heart procedure, minor but not minor enough so I assure you due to medication, my response will be "measured." I hope you are right and I will be there, though I knew nothing about it before you mentioned it. I have NO respect nor patience for bullies and that's who the shot callers are. I also have no respect for pansies and that's who Nutter is though by comparing him with pansies, I am giving pansies a bad name. "The road to hell is paved with good intentions" and I'm sure the folks coming to that church, have honorable feelings. However, Hite and Nutter don't and therein lies the rub. Going hat in hand to these slithering types is both humiliating and futile but I always reserve the right to be wrong and I sincerely hope I am in this instance. Feelings aren't facts and the facts, pesky little articles that they are, tell a very nasty trend that, if anything, is picking up steam even as we babble back and forth.
Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on April 20, 2013 10:31 pm
*********JOIN US TOMORROW*************** Tomorrow at 3pm, fifty Philadelphia congregations - and friends and allies - will come together to promote concrete solutions to poverty, struggling schools and a broken immigration system. More than 3,000 Philadelphians of faith and good will are expected to gather to urge key City officials - City Council, Mayor's office, the Superintendent - to take specific action on these issues in the coming months. Lend your voice to this chorus of justice. Join us: Sunday, April 21st -- 3pm-5pm "Building a City of Opportunity that Works for All" Deliverance Evangelistic Church 2001 W. Lehigh Avenue Phila, PA 19132 for more information and to rsvp go to: http://www.powerphiladelphia.org
Submitted by AnneGem (not verified) on April 20, 2013 9:54 am
Fight back by engaging in city and state budget battles. Sign up for Fight for Philly alerts. We are working closely with PCAPs and other partners to build a One Philadelphia coalition. Come to city hall April 23rd or April 30. http://fightforphilly.org/2013/04/12/one-philadelphia-a-growing-coalitio...
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 21, 2013 5:38 am
Philadelphia is already a tax hell, highest city taxes in the country. PA has the highest corporate income tax rate at 9.99%. Only since the wage tax was reduced has the city recovered from its death spiral of population loss. You're rhetoric of targeting the rich is a lie. It is OK at the federal level, but doesn't work when the rich can move 5 miles to avoid the taxes. Philly tried that in the 60's and 70's and 500k taxpayers left. The only place PA has low taxes is on personal income (with the amazing loophole of no taxes on the generous pensions our public sector workers receive). But income taxes are constitutionally flat, so everyone will pay. And who else in this state wants to feed Philly's waste & corruption? If you actually want to fight for Philly, try reforming the rest of its incredibly inefficient public sector and diverting all the money that is wasted on patronage and pension giveaways like DROP back to its schools. Cut the city bureaucracy to reflect the loss in population over the last 50 years. Stop letting unions dictate the size of the cities workforce (duh). Or maybe ask everyone to contribute more than the minimum $100 a year in property taxes, an absurdly low amount that doesn't even cover the cost of trash collection. I would prefer more funding for schools. But I am tapped out and disgusted by how Philadelphia is run. Taxpayers here already do more than their fair share.
Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on April 21, 2013 8:26 am
Agree. Paying $100/year for property taxes is a joke. Those who owe property taxes have to pay and the system has to be more equitable. I'm tired of paying increases in property taxes when so many pay nothing. I already pay for people who don't pay their gas bill.
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on April 21, 2013 8:29 am
I feel for you and agree with you. The problem is what do you do with masses of people who can't find a job? This new "Austerity Program" is a designed strategy to crush any hope of democracy left in the inner cities and people like you are collateral damage and that stinks. Closing community schools crushes the identity of those communities, not just the school buildings themselves. Crushing unions destroys the hopes for the Middle Class of having livable wages and benefits. Hope and Change Obama has been a disgrace, sitting on the sidelines giving tacit approval to this clear and blatant abuse of the very people who enthusiastically voted for him. The PEOPLE have to make this stop as from Obama on down, including Nutter, have thrown us under the bus. The worst part is that if Obama needed our votes, he would stroll into the big cities and be embraced with that same enthusiasm. We have met the enemy and it is we.
Submitted by Ron Whitehorne on April 21, 2013 12:20 pm

Its a myth that Philadelphia is "tax hell" for business:  https://www.fels.upenn.edu/news/philadelphia’s-tax-system-good-business-bad-low-and-middle-income-families

Philadelphia depends on regressive taxes that hit low and middle wage earners and small business the hardest.

As for the PA corporate tax rate, yes it is high but few large corporations pay it owing to the Delaware tax loophole.   

Manufacturing left the city in Philadelphia and other industrial centers because corporations moved jobs overseas to low wage, non-union environments where they could make higher profits.   Taxes were, at most, a minor factor.   

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 22, 2013 1:41 am
You lose credibility when you argue Philly isn't a tax hell. Everyone who lives here and pays taxes knows the truth. The WSJ just ranked us #2 in the country for highest taxes (or #1 if you discount Bridgeport CT as not a real city). They look at the combined tax burden effect on individuals and businesses. The wage tax is a burden to individuals and businesses both. Try recruiting a suburban worker- you know the business pays that guy extra to compensate for city tax burden. City taxes are regressive. Progressive taxation and redistribution works at the federal level. It doesn't work at the city level where it is so easy to leave. Yes, manufacturing left the city for many reasons, including taxes. But very little replaced it except non-profits and hospitality jobs. Big profitable new private sector companies seem to all be located in the suburbs. Can you can recall the last time a major corporation announced it was moving its HQ to Philadelphia? No? But there have at least 10 major S&P 500 companies that have packed up their Philly HQ's in the last 20 years. That is a remarkable string of coincidence for Philly to be 0-10, despite all of our amenities- culture, the airport, northeast location, low property prices. Taxes are a huge issue. The city only turned out of its death spiral after the city made a concerted effort of small cuts to the wage tax from the 90's. At least that gave some confidence it was going in the right direction.
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on April 20, 2013 9:14 am
Helen--Everybody loves you, including me, but I agree with the above comment, rhetoric and making horror story lists, won't stop these folks. They don't care. The PEOPLE need to refuse to accept the abuse any longer and they need to put their anger into action.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on April 20, 2013 9:32 am
Oh but yes these "nickel and dime" items are VERY important. Thank you Helen for bringing these to light. If anyone disagrees, I can show them how I "nickel and dimed" our family of 4 out of several financial crises, paid off our mortage, and contributed to IRAs, while supporting activities such as music for our kids on a single lower middle class income. The SRC needs to show some discipline and priority setting here.
Submitted by AnneGem (not verified) on April 20, 2013 9:04 am
These are relatively small numbers. I dont think villifying Hite & the SRC is a good direction for righteous anger. Hite has no money. Fight for Philly has developed a Tax Fairness platform which could raise $500M at the local level. PCAPS has endorsed it too. We are organizing for city and state budget fights. Here is the list of revenue generating proposal on the table in City Hall. The Chamber and others are already organizing against them, despite our kids' dire situation. Read it, stay engaged and fight back. Come April 23rd or April 30 to testify for more local revenue for our schools & more determined advocacy in H-burg from our local elected leaders. http://fightforphilly.org/2013/04/12/one-philadelphia-a-growing-coalitio...
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on April 20, 2013 9:56 am
Greater income must be matched with wise spending; otherwise the fight is in vain. Helen is not vilifying at all, only holding accountable. Regardless of funds, they MUST be spent wisely.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on April 20, 2013 8:03 pm
Why does the District need to spend money on TNTP recruitment? There are plenty of teachers looking for jobs. There are probably enough teachers with regular certification to fill even a large number of elementary level vacancies in Philadelphia. The District may have a harder time filling positions at the secondary level, but that's it. The job market for teachers in the Philadelphia area is VERY tight. The District is in a position of leverage when it comes to hiring new teachers because there are so many looking for jobs. I know this because I am one of the job seekers and I've been to a couple of job fairs. EGS
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on April 20, 2013 8:20 pm
Hi EGS. Think a little more deeply on that one. Do a little homework. Then report back to us. I would like to understand TNTP and their relationship to the PSD. And, of course, how and why they came to be. I'll bet you'll come up with more questions than answers.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 21, 2013 1:45 am
The School District of Philadelphia has always been able to hire teachers, but never hold onto enough of them. The burnout rate for Philly has always been high. I was a sub elsewhere when I was hired. A number of subs I mentioned Philly to said they rather stay subbing than come here. That's the reputation that Philly has and the clowns running it haven't made it any more attractive. All of the changes are designed to make money for those feeding off the problem, but never solving Philly's basic problems which have nothing to do with money.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 18, 2013 7:07 pm
Sad! So sad! The parents on welfare not working and making claims of disability on their children are sucking our economy dry. The Commonwealth dishes out billions in welfare/public assistance. Crime in Philadelphia continues to rise and students are dropping out of educational programs at alarming rates. Teachers are faced with resistant students and parents whom often make their workplace hostile and nonproductive. Charter schools are filled with these students as well, but yet the district is charged with funding both public and charter school at-risk students. Lawmakers must some how shift the responsibility onto non-taxpayers and crack down on welfare allotments!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 19, 2013 9:56 am
While simplistic, or worse, your point is taken. A school counselor whom I know has several times been threatened with physical harm for not more rapidly certifying a child for SSI. In the overwhelming number of instances where SSI is paid, the counselor has never seen evidence that the funds for spent for the student's benefit or betterment. Nice concept, if viewed generously. No checks to ensure the funds do not fund inappropriate lifestyles of recipients..
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 19, 2013 10:33 am
Are you so sure that charters are bearing a similar ratio of at-risk students as equivalent PSD schools? Both Catholic schools and charters, in our experience, have off-loaded troublesome (read, oppositional-defiant, etc.) to neighborhood school in recent years. Without counselors, as per Hite, next school year should be exciting -- witnessing the implosion of public education in Philadelphia. Maybe the NRA can supply volunteers to keep order.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 18, 2013 7:12 pm
Stop pouring money into Charter Schools! Imagine the money that would be saved. This is ridiculous
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 18, 2013 7:25 pm
When is Hite going to take a concession in his salary? His salary alone would would cover at least 8 employees making $40,000 a year. The lies never end. Initially it was stated that he would only "lay off" one teacher per school for an approximate number of 35 layoffs. Why are we still believing these lies?
Submitted by Dale Mezzacappa on April 18, 2013 8:46 pm

Hite said that he would take a salary cut on the same order of what happens with the teachers.

Submitted by Linda K. (not verified) on April 18, 2013 10:03 pm
then we will not be getting any cuts will we?...... Linda K.
Submitted by Geoffrey (not verified) on April 18, 2013 11:04 pm
How can you even regurgitate such propaganda? Hite's cut is the same as a teacher's?
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on April 19, 2013 11:03 am
Geoffrey----Exactly Right. Stop playing along with this crap and FIGHT back. We all know the horror stories, so what????????????????? Let's do something to stop it.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 19, 2013 12:19 pm
Well if they want 13% from someone making 55k, then proportionally speaking Hite should give back 71%.......
Submitted by Education Grad ... on April 18, 2013 10:21 pm
This proposal is ridiculous. Schools are already cut to the bone. EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 18, 2013 10:53 pm
How about my school M Hall Stanton that they just voted to close hasn't had many of those pluses for years. Bunch of frauds and hypocrites in a corrupt system. There's no money for music but you find $15 million for a cyber charter.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on April 18, 2013 11:25 pm
I feel ya! I work at a District school that doesn't have enough curriculum materials for special ed, needs a new coat of paint, needs glass replaced, has outdated sinks with separate faucets for hot and cold water, no librarian, and so on. Teachers bring their own paper, pencils, and other supplies. It's ridiculous!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 18, 2013 11:53 pm
That's ok all those schools better make sure they make AYP without textbooks, teachers and resources. The irony is so few of our schools have those resources now. As a certified librarian I haven't been able to be placed in over 4 years. So that was all a bunch of smoke & mirrors.
Submitted by Pat (not verified) on April 18, 2013 10:16 pm
While I can appreciate that the School district is a profoundly broken system, it is hard to imagine the city of Philadelphia can tolerate an even more broken and unsustainable school district. We as a collective can not pretend that we value our children or each other as we allow the SRC, Dr. Hite and Mayor Nutter to dismantle public education in this city.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on April 18, 2013 11:01 pm
Pat-----That's exactly why this blatant corruption and disrespect is lasered into the inner cities where generational poverty and despair, have weakened resistance to abuse. Until the folks get mad as hell and refuse to take it anymore, expect more of the same but likely even worse since the PFT Contract is coming soon. It says here that if the PFT behaves like a punk in August, the PFT will be gone in 2 or 3 years.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 18, 2013 11:37 pm
I have never been more disappointed in the SDP in my life. So disappointed that our school system is being systematically destroyed for the scavengers to fight over. Stanton today all of our schools tomorrow. On another note when's the last time anyone has even seen a school with an actual librarian???
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 18, 2013 11:19 pm
They should ALL be shut down for a year and re-grouped
Submitted by Chris Alfano (not verified) on April 18, 2013 11:36 pm
If you don't like what's going on, figure out what new taxes you can accept and campaign for them. Nitpicking how the school district deals with being severely underfunded won't fix the problem, and you can't spin up controversy over anywhere near enough money to explain the massive structural gap in funding.
Submitted by Timothy Boyle on April 19, 2013 8:05 am

1) Increase the by the drink tax on alchol. I believe it has been stated to bring in 45m recurring. Which would be 75% of what the "ask" is on the city side. Contact at-large and your local council-person

2) Robuck's charter accountability bill.  Which could bring 325m back to state coffers, I imagine a significant portion of that to Philadelphia. Contact your State Rep. and Senator

3) Join PCAPS Funding task force to push for closing the Delaware tax loop, taxing non-profits that use tax-empty land for profit making, and restoring cuts to the PA ed budget two years ago.

Chris, the structual gap is in no small part due to unregulated charter growth and the lack of coherent strategy on charter authorization/re-authorization. If the District is okay with spending money to save money on the Philadelphia Virtual Academy, the District should be okay with spending money on a robust Charter Office to save money on poor planning and outright theft. 

Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on April 19, 2013 1:06 pm
Thanks Tim. Have missed your posts here. Great suggestions.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on April 19, 2013 5:00 pm
Chris, you make a great point about taxes. This city is not as poor as it makes itself out to be. I disagree with Mayor Nutter on many things, but he really has made significant progress in trying to collect more money and crack down on tax deadbeats, or at least some of them. The problem is that many people in gentrifying areas feel entitled to their low taxes. The AVI system is sound. Yes there are mistakes and errors, yes there are longtime residents who should receive a break. However, these issues can be fixed. Some members of City Council---entitled to DROP benefits and all---are hearing from their constituents about AVI and are opposing it because they fear for their seats. However, EVERYONE needs to make sacrifices so that our children don't have to make anymore sacrifices. Those in District schools, particularly the ones in low-income neighborhoods, are suffering the most. I work in a school in a low-income neighborhood and the lack of textbooks and condition of the building is appalling. The school feels like it's in a third-world country. The problems at my school are deeper than the budget cuts, but the budget cuts are breaking the spirit of the employees and the students of the District. Shared sacrifice also means that Dr. Hite needs to take more than a 10% pay cut and those most able to afford to take a cut should do so. Charters need to take cuts---meaning no extra seats. People earning high-cost pensions at 70% of their highest salary need to take a cut too. Those who can afford to take cuts need to do this in order for those who don't earn very much to keep being able to pay their bills and so that the children can have what they need. And vote Corbett out of office in 2014....
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 21, 2013 6:50 am
Not poor? The city has over $5 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. That's around $9k for every private sector job in the city. That is on top of what is already highest tax rate in the US. Sell the gas works, collect the $500mm in taxes, we are still $4 billion in the hole. Philadelphia shouldn't be poor. But after decades of financial mismanagement and over-promising benefits to its bloated city workforce, it definitely is.
Submitted by AnneGem (not verified) on April 20, 2013 9:25 am
Fight for Philly has a One Philadelphia city budget platform for tax fairness that could raise about $500 million simply by taxing those who do not pay their fair share, property tax deadbeats, corporate developers, and the corporate community. I have deep concerns about the CC schools begging to the Chamber. It is divisive and mistakes philanthropy for the duty to pay taxes in a democracy. If they give to those schools, they ll use it as an excuse to lobby against all other fair taxes. Our platform is here:http://fightforphilly.org/2013/04/12/one-philadelphia-a-growing-coalition-is-united-to-fight-1-cronyism-in-philadelphia/ The next opportunity to speak out at the local level - April 23rd 6-8pm, April 30th 10-12 and 1-5pm at City Hall On May 6, FFP is going to Harrisburg to ask the corporations to pay their fair share.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 21, 2013 11:16 am
Hate to break it to you, but the "corporate community" is a shell of what it was before your ilk spent the last 50 years bleeding them to death. That was a couple hundred thousand private sector jobs ago. The only growth here is from the non-profits, schools and hospitals and still the city as a whole is not gaining jobs. Your rhetoric is disingenuous and demagogic. Or maybe you can enlighten us where else in the US a corporation face a combined state and city income tax income rate of 9.99 and 6.5%? Crickets chirping. Philadelphia PA is the highest by far. And that 16.49% doesn't even figure in Philadelphia's uniquely onerous and obnoxious Gross Receipts tax ON REVENUE or the many other ways the city takes its pound of flesh. But why bother. Revenue, net income, highest, lowest. Facts obviously don't matter to you when you have your slogans and a mob of stupid people chanting them. And there is no shortage of stupid in this city.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on April 21, 2013 12:21 pm
The last time I read the U.S. Supreme Court case, known as "Citizens United," a corporation was "a person." I get taxed over 20% for income tax and city wage tax to boot. That seems unfair to me that a corporation would have to pay less than me. Don't you think? If we raised the corporate income tax to what I pay, we could afford an equal education system for our chidren. And then again, I could start a "nonprofit" corporation and avoid a whole bunch of tax liability -- now couldn't I?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 21, 2013 3:42 pm
Rich, I compared STATE and CITY at 16.5% together, highest in the USA. FEDERAL is another 35%. You don't pay 20% city and state Rich and I know you are too smart to introduce a spurious citizens united reference into this discussion about tax rates. Are you also are on this train trying to recruit stupid people who don't know how to use the Google with BS rhetoric? And to anticipate the rhetoric, "eliminating the DE loophole" if devoted entirely to reducing our USA beating tax rate would only reduce PA's tax rate a notch. I agree that should be done, but it produces no spending windfall. State and city is deductible, so the combined rate is not quite the 51% implied by arithmetic but people like this AnnGem don't understand math anyway so who cares. Facts and math interfere with their rhetorical BS. If she were honest, she would say PA needs to increase its personal income tax rate to fund schools. It is is quite low (unless you add the Philly wage tax to it). Or she could say PA should change its constitution and institute progressive taxation so she can target the other "1%". I might agree with that, or I might not depending on what the money was spent on but it would at least be an honest debate. But claiming that "corporations" in PA will pay more is just a lie. Since she is in the business of shouting senseless rhetoric for stupid people, this doesn't matter. But I just wanted to provide anyone too lazy (no offense) to google the state of PA corporate tax rate the actual facts here.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on April 21, 2013 3:27 pm
I was just making a wise crack to highlight the need for a fair tax system which does fund public schools appropriately. Also, I wanted to highlight the games people play to make money off of our schoolchildren which the "nonprofit corporation" is one of them. Nobody begrudges anyone for being fairly compensated for what they do to serve children and their community, but most of us went into education simply because we loved kids and wanted to help them grow and learn and become successful in their lives. We did not go into teaching to wage war against corporate entrepreneurs who want to run schools as businesses. In a district like Radnor, they receive so much money off of corporations because there are so many corporate headquarters located there. Did you ever see their schools and their baseball fields in Radnor? I'll bet they have all of the counselors, school nurses, support staff and reading specialists they need, too. And small class sizes to boot. What do we give to Philadelphia's children? As Jonathan Kozol enitled his book, they are "Savage Inequalities." In Philadelphia, the corporations seek to take over our schools. If anyone thinks that there is not enough money in America to have a well funded and viable public education system, they have their heads in the sand. As Warren Buffet said, "There is a war between the upper class and the middle class, and so far the upper class is winning."
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on April 21, 2013 12:04 pm
I don't know about corporations, but definitely our family is moving because of taxes. The income has slowly risen because of nearly 24x7 year round work, and our ability to save (we don't get a pension) is being compromised. We have ideas for our own business someday, and because we were paid on a 1099 years ago, and had to file as if we had our own business, we know Philly is not the place to do this.
Submitted by AnneGem (not verified) on April 21, 2013 8:07 pm
I just love tough-talking Anonymous postings. If you insist on insults, at least have the cahones to post with your name. Bled dry?Are you serious? Brian Roberts makes $29M a year in income alone.I wonder if he uses a different address to evade the wage tax? Comcast is swimming in cash. Corporations are not bled dry. They are sitting on TRILLIONS in cash - so much cash, they do not know what to do with it. Afterall, they have already bought enough of our government. Our tax rates in PA are very different from actual taxes collected. Sure, the rate is high, but 70% of PA companies don't pay any taxes at all because of the DE loophole. Also plenty of tax-dodging going on at the federal level though off-shore accounts. Many states successfully employ combined reporting, ensuring all corporations doing business in any of those states pay their fair share. PA should follow suit, but it wil not under te current leadership which bows to CEOs. Finally, you are right, Philly's jobs are shrinking. BUt its not from onerous taxes - this myth needs to put to bed. Our job loss is typical of NE manufacturing cities. As our fine city, filled with many wonderful people, recovers and grows (like PEW State of the City indicates), it will be because young people stay here as they raise families. In other words, as jobs can be performed increasingly anywhere, it will be b/c Philly has made quality of life investments in our schools, parks, and more that people stay here. As people stay, their need for services & their consumer power will drive job growth. In addition, manufacturing will come back to Philly. Leaders on Council are setting up incentives and sheltering start-ups. The 3D printer will help too. But, when your kid is turning 5 next year and there is no political will or public demand to fix & fund neighborhood schools, your family is OUT if they can get out, no matter how much you love urban life. Who is left behind? Impoverished families & their vicious cycles.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on April 21, 2013 8:16 pm
I love it. Great job Anne. I apologize for not jumping to your defense. But, as I can see, you can defend yourself very well. I agree with everything you say. Funny, I was just reading the article in today's Inky about how much Brian Roberts and the top CEO's make. Wow, Comcast must really have a lot of seats to be able to afford to pay their CEO that much!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 21, 2013 9:30 pm
Still can't name another city in the us with a city state tax rate of 16.5pct? I don't need to publish my name to point out these lies and demagoguery. Anyone can google the facts. Your fair tax proposals other than the commonsense of collecting property taxes are a crock of bs. They will hit Philly's already beleaguered taxpayers. They will not hit rich mainline people or the 1 pct. Stating that taxes have no effect on job growth in philly is just Ignorant, Denying all evidence that doesn't fit your ideological preconception. You obviously have no problem throwing innuendo about others to demagog the issue. Brian Roberts pays over $1 million in wage taxes. His is one of the few big companies that has remained in he city and grown, Most other executives there live in the burbs and would be happy to relocate the hq out of Philly taking tens of millions a year in tax revenue withthem, But to you he is just another rich guy to vilify and spread lies about. I want to spend more money on schools too. I have young children and dont want to move to the suburbs. but the money should come from cutting the rest of the cities bloated workforce, not raising more taxes on Philadelphians.
Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on April 21, 2013 10:20 pm
I find it ironic when so-called progressives flee to the suburbs to ensure that their children don't have to attend school in Philly. Even parents from the luxury of Penn Alexander aren't satisfied with the "level of serve." Imagine if Masterman was not so selective! It will be more than ironic if next year the only schools with sports and music / art are charters and private schools. I guess we'll see more "flight."
Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on April 19, 2013 5:16 am
Now let's say they implement the plan proposed, no art music or sports. Does that mean that Capa, Kenninston Capa, Benjamin Rush, GAMP and the God knows how many other Capas we have all close??? I don't think that happens. But then they get art while the kids in the apartheid (Neighborhood) High School get nothing.? That does not seem fair. But I do think the new plan is to feed the "good" schools and starve the failing ones which then makes it easier to close them as failures. Does anyone really think little Allison at Masterman is not going to get Art and Music? But I bet Qudera at West may get squat. It seems like the donkeys leading the lionhearted teachers have neither brains nor heart.
Submitted by J.J. McHabe (not verified) on April 19, 2013 8:57 am
Ah yes, the dirty little "secret" that nobody likes to talk about. I find it hard to imagine the doomsday scenario touching the elite schools. It is going to be ugly at the apartheid schools.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 19, 2013 9:33 am
I believe that Masterman has THREE school counselors for 1,150 students -- no doubt to handle all those troubled lads and lassies apply to Ivy School. In contrast, the ratio is one-half or less at for the overwhelming mass of schools with significant numbers of at-risk pupils.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 21, 2013 8:30 pm
The principals got their budgets last week. I'm sure someone could figure that out.
Submitted by Tymir (not verified) on April 19, 2013 7:18 am
The article states, "The huge budget hole is the product of a two-year-long crisis primarily brought about by sharp drops in state and federal aid." Didn't it arise, originally, from Ackerman's excessive spending of federal monies? SLAM used up beaucoup funds, for example - many millions, in fact. What would happen if the District DID go bankrupt?
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on April 19, 2013 2:01 pm
Ackerman had the Federal Stimulus funds to spend, and spend she did; however we can't blame her entirely. The SRC, with its former members, allowed her to do this. The SDP also had a percentage reimbursement from the State for students that transferred to charters, encouraging the SRC to approve the 80 plus charters Philly has now with little fiscal consequences. The Federal Stimulus and charter reimbursement funds ended, and are a lot of that "sharp drop". The rest of the drop is from the recession, and Gov. Corbett's keeping his promise of "no new taxes" by cutting spending. Here is an article about Chester Upland S.D., which was bankrupt: http://www.economist.com/node/21543198 Supposedly the SRC is here to prevent this from happening to the SDP (hard to trust them with their track record, yes.) The scenario posed here is a "worst case" one, if extra funding is not obtained from the State or City. Gov. Corbett has said that money raised from the sale of liquor licenses, with the privatization of these, will go to education. Will it be enough? I think the City should chip in some of that extra Sales tax and some of the Property Transfer tax too.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on April 19, 2013 5:37 pm
Ms. Cheng, I agree with you that Ackerman should not shoulder all of the blame; the SRC when she was superintendent is also at fault. Chester-Upland SD was bankrupt, but one difference between CUSD and the SDP is that the higher-ups in the CUSD seem to be fighting to save their district. The CUSD filed a lawsuit in behalf of itself. Here in Philly, however, Dr. Hite is accepting the 25% cuts to schools that, for the most part, can't take more cuts. (Yes, some of the more affluent District schools are able to more easily absorb cuts because parents raise money, alumni raise money, but most District schools in this city don't have that luxury.) He's putting up no fight. You are the superintendent and you just accept the cuts like it's nothing? For the love of God, STAND UP AND FIGHT!. He's letting the Philadelphia Schools Partnership advocate for more money for all schools. Okay, the PSP can advocate for more money, but DR. HITE NEEDS TO BE ADVOCATING IN HARRISBURG ON HIS OWN TOO!!! How about meeting with representatives from Philadelphia? How about meeting with the Legislature's Education Committee? How about telling charters, no more seats because we have no more money. Even Pedro Ramos says the District should be able to control how much charters expand!!! File a lawsuit, do something, I mean just do something. Unless you're a tool, and really, that's all Dr. Hite is. He makes token moves to make people happy, e.g. removing Beeber from the list and McMichael from the list and so on. But he's showing his true colors more and more each day by his lack of advocacy. I'm not completely cynical, but I've given him his chances. He's like a doctor whose patient needs help, but he just stands there and watches as his patient dies. SO WRONG!!! EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 19, 2013 7:25 pm
I agree that Hite is a tool.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 19, 2013 8:05 am
Most SDP high schools have certified Librarians. But how long will that last?
Submitted by Annony (not verified) on April 19, 2013 8:20 am
There are less than 50 certified librarians left in the School District. There are a number of smaller neighborhood high schools with no librarian nor Lima. The libraries are for all intensive purposes shut.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 19, 2013 8:13 am
Thank you. I've only been able to use my Library Science certification for half a year in 2009 because you have to wait for someone to retire. The majority of our schools do not have librarians, art, music etc. We've been living this doomsday for years.
Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on April 19, 2013 9:16 am
Central has a great library. Air conditioned. Refurbished about 10 years ago with alumni money. Lots of books published in the last five years unlike my IMC which seems to have stopped receiving educational materials around 2000. When they close our libraries and use the books for fuel in the furnaces to heat the building; what are the odds that the Central Library will not have a librarian??? You really think the cuts will the same at Central & Masterman as at Mastbaum, West or Bartram??? We in the Neighborhood schools are the new Soweto.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 19, 2013 1:26 pm
You clearly note that the alumni funded the library at Central. The alumni fund a ton at Central, why is this such a problem for the rest of the District? Southern/G-Town/NE, they all have alumni associations. Ask those alumni associations to buck up a little. Lincoln, Roxborough and other neighborhood schools can ask their alumni for money too. The animosity towards Masterman and Central by people on these boards is ridiculous. You do realize that both of those schools actually receive less per pupil funding because they have less Spec. Ed. funds coming in. Jealousy directed at those schools is just as ridiculous when I hear most of the 99% complain about each other. The District loves hearing people bitch and moan about CHS/Masterman/SLA, it just means instead of fighting for more money for everyone we turn on each other because there are some who though still lacking the basics have a bit more than others. Those buildings are still crap, the actual materials are old and in need of repair/replacement, and they still need more just like Fels, Dobbins, etc. Stop the in-fighting, it does you no good.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 19, 2013 2:21 pm
I think that the generosity of Central & Masterman alumni need to be applauded. I don't think that people are necessarily jealous, I think that when you compare certain schools to those the contrast is just so stark. Philadelphia is segregated by economics, intelligence and race. I substituted in the SDP before I accepted a permanent position. You would be amazed at how different city schools were based on location. It's not a myth that the majority of schools in the NW & NE have more resources and programs for their students. When I arrived at my appointed position in North Philly I cried. I had never seen such poverty and despair. The condition of the building was dark & dirty and literally all the shelves and desks in my classroom were covered in mouse droppings. When I was in grad school at Univ of Penn we read a book called, Savage Inequalities. I think it's by Kozol. I couldn't believe that I along with my students could've been featured in that book. Beyond the constant rodent problems, the lights that flickered on & off by themselves and the overall depressed condition of the entire school & community I stayed because I knew those kids needed me most. For someone that's never worked in one of the forgotten schools of Philadelphia you cannot even begin to imagine what it is like on a day to day basis.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 19, 2013 2:59 pm
" For someone that's never worked in one of the forgotten schools of Philadelphia you cannot even begin to imagine what it is like on a day to day basis." That's a mighty big assumption, which depending upon what you call "forgotten" is incorrect. I have experience in the best and worst of the Philadelphia high schools as either a student, student-teacher, or teacher. I get upset when I hear/read people slam/moan/groan/complain about Central/Masterman as though those schools have done something wrong.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 19, 2013 2:55 pm
" For someone that's never worked in one of the forgotten schools of Philadelphia you cannot even begin to imagine what it is like on a day to day basis." That's a mighty big assumption, which depending upon what you call "forgotten" is incorrect. I have experience in the best and worst of the Philadelphia high schools as either a student, student-teacher, or teacher. I get upset when I hear/read people slam/moan/groan/complain about Central/Masterman as though those schools have done something wrong.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on April 19, 2013 2:14 pm
Central spends less than $5,600 per student including the Special Ed category of Gifted (2010/11 FY using School Budget info on SDP's website). Their classes are packed to max legal capacity and teachers teach more than one subject. Yes, kids get more support at home, but throwing and spending more $$ at schools will not bring home support about.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 20, 2013 11:59 pm
I teach at Central and I can testify firsthand that we have ZERO technology. Any time we ask the school district for more security or ANY technology at all, their line is, "Go ask your alumni association". Out of over 100 classrooms, we have a handful of working SmartBoards. Teachers have laptops and desktops from 2000 or earlier. Departments have one projector that they share. We use TVs with VCRs. It seems that the district sees that we do very well with nothing and do not deserve anything at all. The magnet schools are the best part of this school district and rank nationally; we should be treated and funded just as well as any other school in the district.
Submitted by Annony (not verified) on April 21, 2013 3:53 am
Bodine also has very little technology - maybe 5 white boards, maybe 1 computer cart and the computer labs are only for a computer class. That said, while the magnet schools obviously score higher than neighborhood schools, it is not because of the teachers. Any time students are hand picked, the school will do better on standardized tests since that is the main criteria to get into the school. Having a wealthy alumni association does give Central perks that few schools can imagine. Granted, it can't do everything but it certainly gave Central a library that no other school can match.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on April 21, 2013 12:56 pm
The magnet schools show what can be done when kids have home support. The teachers and staff are doing an outstanding job with great kids, and with the scant resources that they are given. I have visited Central, and the building is old and dark, outside concrete is cracked, crumbling in disrepair. Yes the library is amazing, but so also is Philadelphia's Free Library system to which all students here have access. And as stated, it is not the library that is "making or breaking" the school. Technology seems targeted to greater productivity/cost savings rather than greater learning. Even the innovative projects that attempt differentiated learning, have only shown the importance of individual "one on one". It seems there is some consensus here on this commentary about the importance of family support and early enrichment. Yet, not enough priority is given to this when it comes to directing funds at the elementary school budget level, prior to middle and high school, when the magnet selection process begins. Elementary schools must accept that they are the surrogate parents for some children. They must target those Title I funds as if they were the middle class parents that these children are missing. It is crucial not only for these children but for the continued existence of the neighborhood school.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on April 21, 2013 3:48 pm
The fact that many schools in the District still have blackboards is ridiculous. This is the 21st century. EVERY public school should have replaced blackboards with whiteboards. Whiteboards have been around for 20 years at least. It's mind-boggling that the District wasn't able to allocate money for replacing blackboards with whiteboards in the last 20 years. And the expectation is that all children be able to compete in the 21st century? Please.... EGS
Submitted by Education Grad ... on April 21, 2013 3:27 pm
Anonymous, The situation at Central is similar to the situation in many other schools in the District. I've spent time at three District schools, two in middle-of-the-road neighborhoods and one in a high-poverty neighborhood. One of of the schools in a middle-of-the-road neighborhood had replaced most of its blackboards with whiteboards. The other two schools still have built-in blackboards in almost all classrooms. Teachers who use whiteboards use smaller whiteboards or whiteboard easels. One of the middle-of-the-road schools has SmartBoards in some classrooms. Overhead projectors are present in all of these schools, but how often they are in use differs from teacher to teacher. I have also seen TVs with VCRs in at least one of these schools. My point in describing all of this is that it's not just the magnet schools which lack technology. I imagine that the only schools with whiteboards entirely may be newly-constructed schools like West Philadelphia HS. Also, some of the older buildings do not have the electrical capacity to support some new technologies. Some rooms have very few outlets or outlets which can only accommodate one plug at a time in the outlet. EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 19, 2013 9:53 am
Just imagine what will happen in these schools without any counseling support? They are talking about cutting every counselor and all sports programs. How will kids get to college without these things? Counselors matter and so does athletics. Counselors are just as important as teachers. This is going too far at this point!
Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on April 19, 2013 12:03 pm
They will never cut counselors at Masterman or Central. They need them to get the students into good colleges. The powers to be know your students only last a couple of months so their counselors are expendable. They go to college just long enough to destroy their credit for life with unwise student debt. Now to be fair they have students who actually read at grade level and are going to be in college for more than two months. If we cannot support all students with counselors what does that say about the overarching goal of college for all. Is that really realistic. Does the district keep any statistics as to how many kids last to the 2nd semester, second year or even graduate.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on April 19, 2013 9:36 pm
And that's why Dr. Hite's poker face and justification for cutting secretaries, counseling, special subjects, counselors, and athletics is so wrong. These are core subjects and services for schools. It's enough already that the District is violating best practices, and possibly the law, by not having a nurse at schools to administer medications. Furthermore, the District's ability to inventory and manage its supplies is severely compromised. New textbooks have no stamp or tag identifying them as property of the School District of Philadelphia. This is a particularly relevant issue for many teachers who don't have enough textbooks or receive incomplete curriculum kits or have to share teacher's guides with other teachers. Sometimes, sharing is possible, but sometimes it's not. Who keeps track of where the materials are? Who keeps track of who has what? Who keeps track of whether or not teachers who retire/are no longer employed with the District return their materials? Having seen the shortage of materials firsthand, this issue is important. Dr. Hite even said he was appalled that the District didn't have an up-to-date inventory system, yet he does nothing to remedy the situation. Rather, he provides reasons and justification for making the situation worse! How does he sleep at night?!?! EGS
Submitted by Urban Educator (not verified) on April 21, 2013 12:34 pm
You are absolutely right. There's so much mismanagement and a total lack of accountability. Many schools have closets full of textbooks that were curriculums from years past but not enough textbooks and resources for the current one. For all of those schools that close who's going to account and inventory all of that stuff and where is it going? Head Start uses the gym of Ben Franklin HS as a storage closet from closed Head Starts. Perfectly good supplies,resources,furniture,rugs,books, computers-- u name it are sitting unused in the gym of Ben Franklin. I know because I was allowed to go there to get things for my classroom. For a teacher with absolutely nothing in her classroom it was like a treasure trove. But I left lamenting on the waste of materials & resources. My advice to current Head Start teachers who's centers are closing, give your students the books,materials & supplies so that they can use them.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on April 21, 2013 3:15 pm
Urban Educator, I wrote the comment to which you replied exactly because of what you just mentioned: "Many schools have closets full of textbooks that were curriculums from years past but not enough textbooks and resources for the current one. For all of those schools that close who's going to account and inventory all of that stuff and where is it going?" One of the supply closets at the school where I work has a ton of older materials. I went to look for Everyday Math and Trophies items and there was nothing for either of those. But, there is a ton of stuff for Corrective Reading, Corrective Math, Reading Mastery, and old core reading and core math programs. Some of the classrooms have books and big books that went with old core reading programs. There should be systems in place for disposing of these programs, including offering some of the materials to students and parents. Some of these programs have useful materials because other core reading programs use the same stories. Some of the materials can be great for classroom libraries. EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 22, 2013 2:30 pm
Couldn't agree more. No counselors in these schools has gone way too far. These students will be in serious trouble without that support as well as art, music, etc. Let's hope it really doesn't get to that point.
Submitted by John Doe (not verified) on April 19, 2013 9:43 am
Where is Connie Clayton, we need her back...
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 19, 2013 10:43 am
Don't be fooled by the cover: Theft has occurred in Philadelphia for many,many years to include during this known and well loved leader.
Submitted by John Doe (not verified) on April 19, 2013 2:49 pm
Well at least when she was running things we were not in dire financial circumstances year after year. Im just saying!!! Clinton said it best, "just do the math"
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 19, 2013 9:36 am
Are there benchmarks for spending per PSD students in different grades or classifications? Further, are there reliable spending figures for the same classifications for various/average charters schools? Apologies, I'm rather new to this.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 19, 2013 1:40 pm
I thought the charter schools' budgets were a year behind the traditional school districts, at least this is what Dr. Masch was spewing a few years ago when we were faced with draconian cuts and the charters were still getting money. Everyone downtown said that the next year the charters would feel the crunch, well it has been about 4 years and I haven't heard of one single charter saying they were making massive cuts due to budget woes, so again...how are they managing to fund all the programs and we have to make all the sacrifices?
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on April 19, 2013 2:04 pm
Yes it's true, charters are paid what the home district spends per child on education (only) the previous year. With the SDP operating at low utilization, the per child expenditure is higher than what it would be with greater utilization. Charters benefit from this "inflated" expenditure, because many operate at greater utilization than the SDP overall. However, they have felt the effects of the cuts, even if less so. Perhaps this is why they are finally joining the lobbying effort in Harrisburg. Their funding depends on the SDP's spending.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on April 19, 2013 6:08 pm
Ms. Cheng, The unfettered expansion and growth of charters---along with rising pension costs, wasteful contracts, debt service, and other mismanagement---has put the District in its current predicament. If the District goes bankrupt, this will affect charter schools and pseudocharter schools as well. Charter founders/CEOs like Ayesha Imani of Sankofa Freedom Academy CS "get it"---anyone who heard her speak last night at the SRC meeting sees that she is a true educator who cares not just about her charter school but the common good, about all children attending publicly-funded schools in Philadelphia. The competition mentality of many of the charter operators will eventually come back to bite them. Some of the CEOs of charters need to go back to their parents, kindergarten, or houses of worship and re-learn about sharing with and caring for others. Learning some moderation and restraint would be valuable too. Unfortunately, the business values of looking after one's self-interest and a love of profit don't work the same way in the public sector because the public sector, quite simply, isn't the private sector. The public sector has a purpose, the private sector has a purpose. The public sector is not the private sector! Implementing good practices to make the public sector more efficient and people-friendly are important, but respecting and protecting the democratic process is of fundamental importance. The predicament of the District and charters are inextricably linked and a business-focused, outcomes-focused mentality doesn't lend itself well to living symbiotically. WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND! EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 19, 2013 5:36 pm
Why is it that they are projecting 3000 layoffs and more than 2000 teachers have already resigned or put in for their retirement? Where are these figures coming from and when will teachers be notified as to whether or not they have a job this coming September?
Submitted by linda (not verified) on April 19, 2013 6:22 pm
I think that some of this information from the media is simply to stir the pot. Once the schools close, kids reassigned, faculty and staff retire/quit/are reassigned, then there will be stories of how hard "we" all worked for "you" [the working folks in the SDP and the students] to make things better. After "they" tell "us" what they have sacrificed the real cuts will begin...some harsh, some harsher, and in some cases the impact will not be felt at all----by that I mean what paper? pencils? envelopes? rulers etc. have "we" had to get in addition to tissues, toilet paper, erasers, and ink to run our computers at home to make copies for the kids....
Submitted by concerned teacher (not verified) on April 19, 2013 8:25 pm
The outsourcing of Head start is another SDP debacle. In the end their "proposed" savings of not having a teacher with a degree in every classroom will be eaten up by hiring more administrators to oversee the partner day care providers. The newly proposed provider has numerous violations, as per the Compass website. It's not even a mostly 3 star daycare as promised, when 2,000 Head start seats were to be shifted. 2 stars and some sites even 1!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 20, 2013 6:28 am
When Head Start teachers speak at the SRC they need to say that instead of talking about keeping thier jobs. Talk about the health & safety issues and implications for the children. Put all those violations out on record to shame SDP into being responsible. Saving money shouldn't put children in harm's way.
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on April 20, 2013 8:37 am
Concerned Teacher--------------It's NOT about the kids'. It IS about politics and money and none of it will stop until the people stop it.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 21, 2013 12:06 pm
24 schools are closing. 2,000 Head Start spots are being outsourced. That's going to impact so many people. Even with retirement and/or resignations there is no way we all can be placed in a position. I'm talking about from PreK-12. This is true attrition to get people to leave the SDP completely. My suggestion get your money out of PSERS roll it into a Roth that you can manage yourself. That retirement money that we are building now is nothing but a joke if you aren't retiring in the next 3 years.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 20, 2013 4:59 am
Please list the schools that will not have assitant principals next year in order to save money. These people need to know about their jobs.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 20, 2013 4:38 am
Please list the schools that will not have assitant principals next year in order to save money. These people need to know about their jobs.
Submitted by NOLA (not verified) on April 20, 2013 7:31 am
Please add to that list the counselors who will be cut. It would be nice to search for a job while other schools have openings.
Submitted by Fatty (not verified) on April 20, 2013 7:51 am
How can you run a school or office without a secretary!
Submitted by Fatty (not verified) on April 20, 2013 7:47 am
How can you run a school or office without a secretary?
Submitted by Fatty (not verified) on April 20, 2013 7:04 am
How can you run a school or office without a secretary?
Submitted by Fatty (not verified) on April 20, 2013 7:47 am
How can you run a school or office without a secretary?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 20, 2013 10:19 am
how can you have schools without Counselors, especially schools with autism and emotional support classes. Plus by law counselors have to be there for IEP meetings, so if you cut them out is the district going to have the funds for legal fees because these parents could sue. I heard that many of the principals were kicked off of the website when Hite tried to explain what was going on the otherday so they couldn't even hear his disembodied voice, and then I heard that pricipals aren't getting downloadable budgets instead they were told to budget for a principal and one teacher for every class limit size class. nothing else.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 20, 2013 4:05 pm
In a school with 600 students (5 special ed classes) not having a counselor is equivalent to having a right hand removed. The expertise counselors bring to the table cannot be replaced. Hours spent each week regarding IEPs and compliance monitoring cannot be neglected. This space is not big enough to explain the added value counselors bring to a teaching and learning organization. You can be sure mega lawsuits will come rolling in. Just not able to foresee school operations in the fall without a counselor preparing high school applications in addition to all the other responsibilities that an extraordinary school counselor does everyday. No counselor and no secretary equal a catastrophic loss of focus on student achievement and the improvement of teaching and learning.
Submitted by ANON 452 (not verified) on April 20, 2013 4:55 pm
And 4th grade applications to magnet schools! Parents will have to be totally responsible for preparing all high school and 4th grade applications--there will be no one else to do it. That means lots less applicants for special admit schools, because only some parents will actually do it. Or, will the folks at the Office of School Selection take over ALL applications--what a joke!
Submitted by Edu Grad Student (not verified) on April 20, 2013 6:10 pm
This is a great point. School counselors are essential for the reasons you mentioned. They also help deal with students who have behavior problems. Most schools don't have deans anymore, so it's either the principal, assistant principal, teacher leader, or school counselor who deals with the kids with behavior problems. EGS
Submitted by ANON 452 (not verified) on April 20, 2013 10:26 am
We have had two suicide threats during school hours in my homeroom alone this year. How will we handle this if there are no counselors? Call the police? Call the mobile crisis unit? Call parents (who will call?) to come pick up their kids? This is a disaster in waiting. Thankfully, both of my students got the help they needed--I do not know what we will do next year. Dr. Hite, Paul Kihn, Mike Davis, et al be prepared to be sued!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 20, 2013 12:10 pm
Step 1: Scrap the retirement plan completely, switch all employees over to SS which requires only 6% from employer. SS is good enough for the rest of America. This is just common sense. The objective of the school system is to provide the best possible education to our kids with whatever funds are available. The objective of the school system is not to provide the best possible retirement to its former staff.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 20, 2013 1:09 pm
Funny how you never pipe up when they are still giving raises to administrators (half a million to 25 administrators) or nearly a million to get rid of a superintendent who should have been arrested and put on trial. You think you are going to find lots of teachers flocking into Philly for a 6% retirement plan? It just shows how little you grasp the whole the picture. Even in the best of times Philly is hard pressed when it comes to recruiting teachers. The whole system is about to collapse.
Submitted by tom-104 on April 20, 2013 2:55 pm
And what about debt service to the banks? A huge portion of the school budget is going to interest payments to banks for loans that the SRC has made over the last ten years. To get a glimpse at these backroom deals, look at this article in yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer: Backfire: Philly effort to keep financial troubles quiet
 from PhillyDeals at the Philadelphia Inquirer "Philadelphia's closed-door two-day schmoozefest with 100 bond underwriters and other would-be lenders keeps generating unwelcome publicity for the nation's brokest big (million+ resident) city. "Retail investors own about 50 percent of municipal bonds directly and another 20 percent through mutual funds. If the media is not allowed to attend the [Philadelphia debt] conference, then retail is at a distinct disadvantage," scolds Cate Long for Reuters here. (link in article) That follows Bloomberg's Romy (another link in the article) Varghese report: "Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, whose municipality has the lowest credit rating of the five most-populous U.S. cities, will address investors at a conference financed by underwriters and closed to the public and the press." Read the article: http://tinyurl.com/cvckd5z Look at the Vargese report http://tinyurl.com/cl9gn4q : "Sam Katz, chairman of the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, created in a 1991 state law that oversees the city’s finances, said that with the conference being held locally, it “certainly created some concern on the part of people that it should be made public.” He’s more troubled, however, by the fact the school district isn’t on the agenda, he said. Facing a $304 million deficit, school officials have asked the city for $60 million and the state for $120 million. The school district’s in a crisis,” Katz said. “They’re the same tax base.” Philadelphia officials facing a $1.35 billion spending gap over five years voted in March to shut 9 percent of its public schools. "Philadelphia entered into $3.5 billion of swaps, and its borrowing cost may swell by as much as $186 million compared with what it would’ve paid to issue fixed-rate debt, estimated city treasurer Nancy Winkler in October. The city is lobbying to maintain its ability to engage in the transactions after a bill that would ban the practice for municipalities was introduced in the state legislature in February."
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on April 20, 2013 2:04 pm
Tom 104---You must be a fly on the wall when you aren't teaching. Congratulations as always. It's amazing how corrupt these gibronies are, isn't it??
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 21, 2013 12:14 am
Aren't all 14,000+ PFT members still getting step/COLA raises currently? I think they are the only group that still does. Many non represented haven't gotten raises for 2-3 years and Spap, 32 BJ both did not receive raises to my knowledge. 32BJ and non represented both gave back % of their pay, furlough days and contribute to healthcare. I'd say PFT looks better than other options right now...
Submitted by Urban Educator (not verified) on April 21, 2013 2:07 pm
Divide & conquer.... don't fall for it.
Submitted by g (not verified) on April 21, 2013 2:34 pm
You A-HOLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Submitted by tom-104 on April 20, 2013 9:52 pm
Everyone should check out this post on Diane Ravitch's blog today: "The Master Plan for Obama Education Reforms" at: http://dianeravitch.net/2013/04/20/the-master-plan-for-obama-education-r... (Read the comments.) She has a link in the article to the Broad document "Smart Options: Investing the Recovery Funds for Student Success". This April 2009 40 page document specifies the goals of the Broad Foundation for reorganizing America's public schools. Page 3 lists the participants. One is "Mr. William Hite, Prince George's County Public Schools." Don't forget, Dr. Hite was a graduate of the Broad Superintendents Academy in 2005. http://www.broadcenter.org/academy/network/profile/william-hite Dr. Arlene Ackerman was "the first superintendent-in-residence, of the Broad Foundation from 2007-2008 before being appointed superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia." http://www.broadeducation.org/asset/0-090504tbasuptsinresidence.pdf Dr. Ackerman was on the Board of Directors of the Broad Foundation while she was Superintendent of Schools in Philadelphia. http://www.broadeducation.org/asset/419-tbc_board_announcement.pdf Have we been setup?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 21, 2013 11:34 am
tom-104, :Have we been set up?" And HOW! Here's is the script they have been working from nationwide. It was originally published on the Broad Foundation's web site under "Tool Kits" As one reads through it it becomes obvious how this whole thing was orchestrated. Don't look for this "manual" on the Broad web site, they pulled at the end of January 2013. "School Closure Guide Closing Schools as a Means for Addressing Budgetary Challenges" http://failingschools.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/school-closure-guide1.pdf
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 21, 2013 9:37 am
Why spend money on Benchmark assessments when schools don't use them? The SDP has the capacity to create and score Benchmarks internally using Lexmark printers. Ask teachers how frequently they use Benchmark data.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 21, 2013 9:10 am
Dr. Hite, Is launching a search for the following roles: Deputy for Assessment Deputy for Teacher Effectiveness Deputy for Principal Effectiveness Chief Schools Officer Chief of Academic Supports Where will the money come from for the following positions and why are they not listed on the SDP website? Oh, the money will come from the 133 million give back from labor or the 120million from the state of 60 million from city councils or the additional 10% pay cut non-reps have already taken.
Submitted by ANON 452 (not verified) on April 21, 2013 11:35 am
NO MORE Execs or deputies for the SDP! There are already enough there who know little to nothing about their jobs! Look at how many questions Danielle Floyd (Deputy Chief of Staff) could NOT answer about her chief responsibility--the Facilities "Master" Plan! 440 North Broad should be completely empty before ONE counselor or secretary is removed from a school. Central Admin should be "bare bones", not the people who actually work with children is schools.
Submitted by g (not verified) on April 21, 2013 2:22 pm
Those roles are nothing but cushy jobs for do-nothing connected people.The Phila Archdiocese has none of those characters in their school system and they are doing fine. Why do we need various "suits" "walking through" our schools? If Hite wants to see how well we are teaching- HE should personally drop by unannounced, and see how hard we really work -NOT the "dog and -pony show" his "people" see when they come for a planned "walk-through". He should also sit down and actually talk to classroom teachers. (NOT-teachers picked by the principal-but regular teachers.)I can only assume that HE-like Vallas-and Ackerman-want no such knowlege from the front lines. Dr. Hite-I challange you to contact me and sit down with me- a plain, old, front-lines-classroom teacher. I am not anonymous-The editor of the Notebook knows who I am.
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on April 21, 2013 5:43 pm
g----------------Did I read your post correctly????????? The Catholic Church has the biggest and most egregious nepotism format in the history of the world. Too many to count priests and nuns and ex priests and ex nuns are scurrying all over the place doing nothing but getting in the way of the lay staff who live in the real world. In fact, most of the time, the clergy hold positions of power because they can. Just sayin.
Submitted by g (not verified) on April 21, 2013 10:34 pm
What I meant is that the Catholic School System seems to be able to exist without all of these extra people with meaninglessly titled -do-nothing positions.
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on April 21, 2013 10:17 pm
My Bad.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 21, 2013 10:46 am
This is nothing more than a ruse to break the unions. Take what they have won in previous negotiations away and allow the richer people not to pay their fair share. Sounds like a Republican is behind all of this. CORBUTT.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 21, 2013 12:19 pm
Once they remove the maximum class size from the contract, they will only need one teacher to teach all our children. Budget problem solved. Trust is something earned, not given.
Submitted by South Philly teacher (not verified) on April 22, 2013 12:48 pm
We didn't get our budget until late Friday night. We are a "receiving" school-will be getting students from one of the closing schools. We have been allotted a .16 K teacher. That's it. No more K teachers. We are also allotted (and have the money for) one teacher per grade (1-8). No secretaries, no noon-time aides. 2 prep teachers. That's it. Title I money was not included in the budget. We have barely anything left after "buying" those personnel to get by on basics-like textbooks, etc for incoming students. It is absolutely insane.
Submitted by Urban Educator (not verified) on April 22, 2013 2:59 pm
What's a .16 K teacher?
Submitted by South Philly teacher (not verified) on April 22, 2013 2:26 pm
I was wondering the same thing-yet that is what's listed! .16 Kindergarten teacher. That would be 2/3 of a day a week.
Submitted by Judy Kottke (not verified) on May 5, 2013 11:12 am
If I'm not mistaken, the .16 kindergarten teacher would be the result of dismembering said teacher, and distributing the parts to various schools -- an arm here, a leg there, perhaps an elbow to a smaller school. This follows the pattern of dismembering pre-K/Head Start, the custodial workers' union, our retirement and health care programs, and, of course, the entire public education system -- which was undoubtedly the goal in the first place. My fourth grade students are in the process of writing letters to the governor to remind him that they are real people with real dreams, not just numbers on a balance sheet. Some of their more notable comments: "I have a dream and I need to finish school to accomplish it. You're getting in my way by taking money from my school. Please stop taking the money." "My dream is to become a scientist, but to be a scientist, I need an education... This is why schools should be open instead of closed, and why there should be more schools and fewer jails." "I have a strong dream to learn. I want an excellent education just like you had an education. Let us have one, too. We work hard, and we try hard... I really, really need my education." "I am surprised what you are doing to us. You got your education. Why can't we? You are making it worse for us and the teachers, nurses, police -- even principals. Our futures are not going to be the way we want them to be. Our teachers want us to have a dream, but we cannot. You have the power to make the difference. Kids that are failing... need summer school, but they can't." "We need summer school for kids who are struggling in things. We need head start and secretaries to answer phones, to give us messages. Who is going to keep our school safe? Imagine a school without books!" "If you keep it up, we will have no future. We will go one by one from school, then we will go to jail and we will be miserable forever. So since you had yours, let us have ours. We need several things to continue our school. Please, sir." "I want to tell you that if the governor when you were little gave you your education, why can't you give us ours? We can maybe save your life one day. Say if you're sick, one of the kids can grow up to be a doctor. But we can't save you without an education." "I need the education that you had. I have dreams like you. I really feel upset what you are doing to our public schools. I want to be an NFL player. How am I going to do that if you are cutting our secretaries, counselors, security, books and stuff? We need security because what if someone came in our school or another school with a gun? If we do not have security, somebody might die or get hurt. We need counselors because somebody gets picked on every day and they always go to the counselor. What if we don't have a counselor? We need money to pay these people." "You have been cutting our money. That means no paper or after school programs. I want you to know that I'm important, too. I'm a kid and a person, too. So I can't get an education, but you can. That's just not fair to kids or other people." I am so proud of my students for interpreting the facts in their own ways and expressing their viewpoints from the heart. If anyone can make the Grinch's heart grow three sizes, it will be the children.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 10, 2013 2:52 pm
Check this out! http://www.recovery.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=525527&m... Its a breakdown of where the district's money goes. Doesn't it seem foolish to give millions of dollars to Apple, MacMillan McGraw Hill ( The creators of the what I consider the University of Chicago Mathematics Project gone bad-a project that experimented and ruined many of our children's mathematical foundation) and Pearson- Big Corporate test company. These are some of the places where the district should be cutting money. There has been so much wasteful spending done. I watched a principal purchase a 52 inch screen TV and it was approved so the students could watch the Obama inauguration. Seriously? The district needs to investigate and find out where the real waste is going and cut those things, not the staff members that are needed to effectively operate a school.

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