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Hite says Philly schools need bare minimum of $320 million more next year

By Dale Mezzacappa on Feb 19, 2014 05:51 PM

The School District of Philadelphia will ask for $320 million in additional funds next year to reach "a bare minimum amount of improved and sustained educational opportunities for our students and families," according to a financial supplement to Superintendent William Hite's Action Plan 2.0 made public Thursday.

Ideally, Hite said, to fully realize his plan -- built on "bold expectations" for creating schools that can prepare all students for college and careers -- the price tag exceeds twice that amount.

"Our citizens deserve better, our students deserve better. We're asking for a set of investments," Hite said in a conference call with reporters.

Hite said that the $320 million is on top of $120 million in recurring revenues that is now up in the air due to squabbling between Harrisburg and City Hall over how to raise and distribute it -- through extension of a 1 percent sales tax, or a combination of that and a cigarette tax. "We're assuming that we're getting the $120 million," Hite said.

The financial supplement will be formally presented at the School Reform Commission meeting on Thursday.

The document says its purpose is to ask the District's funders for additional support. It does not directly finger the state or the city as culprits but is blunt in its argument that "money does matter and we do not have enough." Its conclusion is a call for more resources, highlighting the deprivation caused by years of "disinvestment in the School District of Philadelphia's students":

This is a policy with real and damaging consequences for the lives of our students, the future of our city, and the social and economic health of our state. As a District, we are committed to realizing a system of excellent schools capable of providing all our students with the quality education they deserve. Such a system, however, is not possible with the kind of chronic underfunding that is starving our schools and shortchanging our students. ... Real improvement requires adequate, fair and stable funding.

This year, due to state and federal cutbacks, the District was forced to slash its workforce and pare down school staffs, including counselors and support personnel, in order to make ends meet. Its pleas for $180 million from the city and state were met primarily by one-time grants totalling about $112 million.

"As a result, we are in the same situation we were in last year," the document says. "The District cannot afford what works. We can only afford some of what works. This means that we cannot afford to replicate and scale programs that work at the rate our students deserve."

Besides replacing the non-recurring funds that have helped balance this year's budget, the District will need about $80 million to cover rising expenses due to pension and charter school costs. The document says that about $240 million of the $320 million in new money would be available for additional supports. It would pay for, among other things, beefed-up early literacy, more services for English language learners and special needs students, more expansions and replications of successful schools, better career and technical education, and better teacher development, Hite said.

The $320 million would represent an increase of more than 13 percent in District revenues, a heavy political lift for Hite and education advocates. In contrast, the additional funding earmarked for Philadelphia in Gov. Corbett's proposed budget is $29 million. 

Hite's document also reiterated that the District also needs labor concessions in order to save money, to improve schools, and to convince funders that the District deserves the additional investments from them.

Although the District initially sought $133 million in labor savings, mostly through restructuring the compensation system for teachers, nearly a year of negotiations has yielded no agreement. The financial document does not specify a new dollar target for concessions from labor, but it does emphasize that the District needs work-rule reforms as well as economic givebacks. It enumerates the major changes the District is seeking from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, primarily to give schools more flexibility to choose staff and to structure the day more efficiently.

To "assemble school teams that best meet the needs of students and the school community," the District wants to fill all teacher vacancies through site selection, which it described as "a thoughtful process involving interviews," rather than through seniority. Now, only some vacancies are filled through site selection. It also wants to let principals decide who to lay off "based on appropriate student-focused criteria" rather than employing a last-hired, first-fired rule (which is, in fact, a state requirement), and not have to recall laid-off employees based on seniority either. 

In addition, the District wants to increase instructional time each day, give principals more authority over preparation periods to make it easier for teachers to do collaborative planning, and have more flexibility around rostering "so class schedules can be created in an efficient manner that meets the needs of students."

Hite said that the ultimate cost to bring the District to a new level is closer to the $770 million in additional funds each year arrived at by a report prepared for City Council by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania. By way of comparison, it compared Philadelphia per-pupil spending with those of nearby districts. For instance, if the city spent the same per pupil as Lower Merion, it would spend an additional $1.6 billion a year; if it spent at the same level as Pittsburgh's public schools, it would have an additional $1 billion.

"If, in fact, we want to get to great schools, our choices are clear," Hite said. "We either continue down a path of every year struggling to make ends meet, or provide children and educators with the resources they need to do this work."

Comments (38)

Submitted by inthetrenches (not verified) on February 20, 2014 4:23 am
Gleason appears to have written the financial plan. Note in paragraph 3 on page 1 - "District has been able to invest in specific programs that work - "Sustainability workshop, SLA, Hill-Freeman." These are the 3 schools that Phila. School Dictatorship funded this year. These so called "progressives" took the money and ran while other schools are starved. (The other two schools highlighted were picked by Phila. Academies - yes, run by Nutter's wife.) It calls for creating 1 - 5 Renaissance charters - that means far more lay offs and costs. Renaissance Charters cost more money than Philly schools. Gleason works rule changes create all powerful principals - (page 6) - principals have all power over hiring and firing. They determine who stays and who goes. They may also consider who stays based on funding. This will give principals the ability to fire to save money - yes, more veteran teachers are vulnerable to the whims of far too many incompetent principals. Principals also control prep time (see bullets 2 and 4) Again, teachers are told to "sacrifice" while extending the "instructional time," loss of basic rights and more threats for firing / closures. Why would anyone want to teach for more than a two year drive by stint in Philadelphia? Who is running this school district?
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on February 20, 2014 8:51 am
Yes, while we do not have enough money to provide even minimal levels of services to children in our public schools, we always have enough money to 'turn them over" to private entities. The result, more turmoil, which is of course, the "churn" Eli Broad advocates for. What people want is "every school to be a good school" with all of the necessities of a Great public school education. But I see nothing in "the plan" which speaks to that at all. Why? Why are we not just making every school a good school? We know what good schools look like and are. So why are we starving our real public schools of services to children, leadership, and highly skilled, qualified, and experienced teachers?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 20, 2014 6:00 am

I find it odd the district is advertising for teachers, principals, assistant superintendents and executive level personnel on their website. The staff who remains laid off appears to have been forgotten. Additionally, after they fired three principals last month, they claimed more sanctions were going to be doled out this month at tonight's meeting. I guarantee that's not happening. They botched the investigation and violated peoples due process rights. The only sanctions being given now are suspensions or reprimands. Other schools had twice as many erasures as the schools identified last month with the three fired principals (who I hear have very good attorny's). I can't wait to see the justice and payouts those ladies will walk away with. You can not pick and choose who you afford due process. Andy Rosen is well aware of the mess he helped create when he moved forwarded with tainted, hearsay evidence.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 20, 2014 8:31 am
you got that right..
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 20, 2014 7:39 am
Unless you have worked in the PSD you have no idea what it's Principals are like. I worked in the PSD for five years and had 7 Principals. Only of them was somewhat decent and fair. The PFT created many of it's former contract stipulations to contend with corrupt Principals who were hiring their family and friends, most of whom were not qualified at all.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on February 20, 2014 8:43 am
Yes, principal autonomy would be a disaster. No principal and no person on this Earth can possibly effectively manage and lead a school on their own. Efective leadership and management is a Team Sport. There are just too many complexities of law, pedagogy and leadership for any single person to be given "unfettered autonomy." Autocratic school governance is the worst form of school governance. The most important issue which is almost never discussed is how to choose "effective leadership" and how to fairly remove "ineffective leaders." We just pretend the issue is not there.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on February 20, 2014 9:04 am
Rich, It's all smoke and mirrors, a version of the hidden ball trick. Houdini was great at it. The goal is to close Public Schools and to throw interference in front to divert, obscure that goal. FINALLY, Hite's handlers have told him to attack and he has, especially with Billy Green alongside him. Nutter feels left out. In any case, The PFT needs to answer that challenge in a big way and likely very soon.
Submitted by Go-Eagles (not verified) on February 20, 2014 9:48 pm
You mean Billy Longshanks. I remember reading on this very blog that the PFT had some of the best lawyers money can buy, particularly after the SRC suspended parts of the school code. Did I read it right Joe? Where are they?
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on February 20, 2014 9:55 pm
Now, when I called Hite, Longshanks, the nopebook deleted my post and likely this one too. I don't know where their lawyers are. They may be out in the alley drinking where I belong also. The Pirates will be lucky to win 81 games this year, so THERE!!!!!!!!!
Submitted by Go-Eagles (not verified) on February 20, 2014 10:26 pm
Those lawyers are probably sipping a few margharita's on a beach in the Cayman's with a wink-wink nod-nod with those hedge fund managers. We got'em now. On a serious note, I read the thread about that Russian girl getting into charter through a lottery. I thought charters selected their students. Good luck with Burnett. Rumor has it that he is seriously considering investing in charter schools with that cool $16 million a year contract.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on February 20, 2014 10:06 pm
Yes, add Ruben Amaro to that list in the alley too. Guy keeps signing guys who are old, slow and can't play. I may ask for a tryout.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 20, 2014 10:24 pm
What happens when a charter goes bankrupt? http://tinyurl.com/kvbgler
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 20, 2014 8:10 am
good luck with that 320 million,your pipe dreaming again...........
Submitted by Headstart Teacher (not verified) on February 20, 2014 9:06 am
So i heard that Hite is now trying to push "Transformation" schools. Blaine will be one of these - and if if you don't 'share the vision" you can transfer. ! The vision is..... a longer school day, longer school year AND Saturday school day WITHOUT additional pay!!!! Bi-weekly assessment of teachers and immediate firing if not compliant and preforming to Hite's standards, There is more but I could not get any further without vomiting. The Union's response - transfer if not on board. WTF?!?!?
Submitted by LS Teach (not verified) on February 20, 2014 9:15 am
Where did you hear this? Any documentation to back this up?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 20, 2014 9:36 am
Sounds like the Renaissance School model. Why don't they just have teachers live at school and they could be available 24/7?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 20, 2014 2:37 pm
be careful of what you hear. big difference between someone's rumors and rantings and the Truth!
Submitted by Headstart Teacher (not verified) on February 20, 2014 2:44 pm
This is directly from a person who works at Blaine. I'm sure it'll be in the news soon enough..
Submitted by Headstart Teacher (not verified) on February 20, 2014 9:01 am
Heard it from a teacher at Blaine who said everyone is being forced to meet with the principal to discuss if they are buying into the vision or not. Wonder if Kool-Aid will be served....
Submitted by inthetrenches (not verified) on February 20, 2014 9:57 am
Blaine got money from the Phila. School Dictatorship. Say no more who is calling the shots.
Submitted by Headstart Teacher (not verified) on February 20, 2014 9:18 am
Well, that explains why its happening there BUT its a blatant end run around the union. If it works at Blaine then the rest of the schools will fall like dominoes!
Submitted by inthetrenches (not verified) on February 20, 2014 10:48 am
Agreed! It is bully tactics.
Submitted by Headstart Teacher (not verified) on February 20, 2014 11:20 am
But, if no one stays who will they get to teach??? Even charters treat their workers better than that! Its an end run around the union - for sure - but how can it be legal????
Submitted by Headstart Teacher (not verified) on February 20, 2014 11:23 am
But, if no one stays who will they get to teach??? Even charters treat their workers better than that! Its an end run around the union - for sure - but how can it be legal????
Submitted by Hopeful Parent (not verified) on February 20, 2014 1:21 pm
I am really wonder what does "Kool-Aid" have to do with the meeting?
Submitted by Headstart Teacher (not verified) on February 20, 2014 1:34 pm
as in don't drink the Jonestown Kool-Aid it has poison in it. It was a cult thing, the members had been brainwashed to follow orders without question.
Submitted by Taxpayer (not verified) on February 20, 2014 9:45 am
LOL! Hite wants a $700 Million dollar increase on a $2.3 Billion dollar budget??? And he wants that annually??? That's a 30% increase at a time when the economy is growing at 2%. And he wants that every year. What a laugh! Tell the district to tighten its belt and live within its means. Take a hike, Hite. The taxpayers have had enough.
Submitted by Morrie Peters (not verified) on February 20, 2014 9:38 am
THe SDP budget has increased by ONE Billion dollars under the privatization front organization known as the SRC. Every one of those dollars is due to the charterization of this District. Gamble, Gleason, Ramos, Corbett, Gorgerihian, Nutter's wife and he, by proxy, profit on the educational backs of poor people. This is sick:-(
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on February 20, 2014 10:36 am
I wish I had said it----I'm jealous !!!!!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 20, 2014 1:45 pm
"It also wants to let principals decide who to lay off "based on appropriate student-focused criteria" rather than employing a last-hired, first-fired rule (which is, in fact, a state requirement), and not have to recall laid-off employees based on seniority either. " NO NO and NO. This would be subjective and willy nilly. Prinicipals have friends and favorites they could hire, and pressure from the District would encourage hiring less experienced, cheaper employees There is a lot of talk about "quality education" but these hiring policies don't bear that out . My children went through this system and some of the teachers were better than others. That's life, most jobs have entry level pay scales that rise through the years. I see a conflict here. The Disrict is doing everything it can to persuade veteran teachers to leave yet all we keep hearing about are increased pension costs.
Submitted by Headstart teacher (not verified) on February 21, 2014 4:47 pm
That's the next thing they'll go after - pensions - now that they have over loaded the system by forcing people to retire enmass.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 21, 2014 5:02 pm
Of course, this happening everywhere and it's very well planned. "You people are taking from taxpayers. and we don't have the money anymore. We're broke." That's not my fault, I upheld my end of the bargain. Good point Headstart teacher.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 20, 2014 1:50 pm
<< "Again, teachers are told to "sacrifice" while extending the "instructional time," loss of basic rights and more threats for firing / closures. Why would anyone want to teach for more than a two year drive by stint in Philadelphia? Who is running this school district?" >> It's being run by people who have little interest in public education. Those who want to privatize don't care about the quality of the workforce or the level of student achievement. When you have a business model it's about profitability. Things have gone downhill so badly we should be talking more seriously about DISBANDING THE SRC and less about how to make do with nothing and sacrifices from teachers (as if they haven't already). Clue for Mayor Nutter: if you want Philadelphia to be a first class city you should realize that young professionals who want to locate here look at schools before anything else. Philly is not doing well in that regard and part of that is your fault.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 20, 2014 4:12 pm
Are any Ironworkers Local 401 union officials still around to help the PFT out and put the SRC and Hite back on their saddle back to where they came from?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 20, 2014 4:08 pm
Go Ironworkers Local 401 ! They were out there fighting for their members against the selfish, greedy, trying to be all powerful billionaires, like Gates, Koch Bros., Broad, Walton's, Pew, ALEC organization. etc. Maybe it's time for all workers to fight back against this insanity of trying to take away all our rights, including voting, worker rights, decent wages, benefits, work rules and for what to - make a millionaires / billionaires richer and gain more power. I hope the Ironworkers Local 401 are acquitted in court. We need more union leaders, organizations, union members, all workers, voters to stand up to plate and push these disgustedly rich away, like our ancestors did before us.. If we don't do something vigorously to push them back -we all lose and for many, many years to come.
Submitted by Taxpayer (not verified) on February 20, 2014 8:17 pm
So you support tactics such as arson, aggravated assault (beating people with baseball bats), terroristic threats, extortion, intimidation, etc. to get what you want. That is why unions have no public support. The iron workers should be considered nothing less than an organized crime group, but more realistically domestic terrorists.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 20, 2014 6:29 pm
And NONE of this money will come to the classroom or teachers...We will still have to buy all our supplies, have no staff support for struggling kids, no new curriculum or supplies....it is a joke. And Hite continues to hire administrative people for three figure salaries, and expects teachers to work for a pittance. It will not change a thing except demoralize the teachers even more. Young people, get out while you can.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 20, 2014 8:47 pm
It looks more like DISBANDING the PFT would be a better idea !!!

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