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February 2014 Vol. 21. No. 4 Focus on Keeping Students Engaged

District news

More budget challenges ahead

By by Dale Mezzacappa

Facing a $300 million budget shortfall last spring, local leaders called for a rescue package – asking the city and state for $180 million in additional recurring revenue and the unions for $133 million in labor savings.

But there is not much to show for it. The District has gotten little recurring revenue besides $28 million from improved local tax collections. On the labor savings, they have nothing: Negotiations with teachers’ and principals’ unions plodded on into February without a settlement. 

The budget gap this year was closed largely through a combination of layoffs, spending cuts, and $140 million in one-time revenues and devices – including a $50 million contribution from the city, $45 million from the state, and spending down the District’s remaining $39 million in reserves. 

To balance next year’s budget, the District must come up with a way to replace that $140 million as well as cover $75 million in new expenses arising from naturally occurring increases in items like utility and pension costs. But in a late-January interview, District Chief Financial Officer Matthew Stanski was not prepared to put a dollar figure on the size of a potential budget hole. 

City and state officials – they would add union leaders – have shown little urgency to resolve the crisis. 

Although the state legislature passed a bill last June allowing the city to extend a 1 percent sales tax surcharge and devote $120 million annually to the schools, City Council has balked. It wants to split the revenue between education and pensions. And although Council wants to hike the cigarette tax, Harrisburg hasn’t passed the enabling legislation.

Stanski said that District officials have yet to decide whether to include the $120 million in next year’s revenue projection.

Comments (19)

Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on February 10, 2014 6:40 pm
The problem is in Philadelphia. Our Council stole the $120 million the legislature gave to the schools as a recurring income source. Why does the Notebook and other Philadelphia media insist Harrisburg has to help us if we will not help ourselves?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 10, 2014 6:21 pm
The Union members/leadership haven't a been "plodding along." We've been busy working our figurative asses off with no resources and little pay to try and provide an education for our children. I refuse to take a pay cut. It is ridiculous and absurd to think we should! How about cutting the salaries at the top and quit hiring six figure positions!
Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on February 10, 2014 8:57 pm
You have seen Green & Hite's plan. They are going to recruit top teachers by cutting teacher pay and benefits. It is unfortunate but Philadelphia is rapidly becoming a third world cesspool. Be it its School System, L&I or its Streets Department; Philadelphia likes its institutions inefficient and incompetent. And the way to improve itself is to cut the worker's pay. Right!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 11, 2014 8:11 am
Little pay??? That's a joke. Two Philly teachers earning the average pay would put you in the top 10% of household income earners. And yes, most other households have two earners.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 11, 2014 9:00 am
You might make $80,000 if you stay here 10 years. Most people leave before 5. Those of us who have been here 4 years and are stuck with pay cuts make in the 40s even with my masters degree. It's not a recipe to get teachers to stay.
Submitted by Taxpayer (not verified) on February 11, 2014 10:28 am
The number two spot for becoming a millionaire? Educators. All hail the one percent who want to raise taxes on everyone else to pay for their lofty lifestyles. http://www.dailyfinance.com/2012/03/26/surprising-job-that-gets-many-ame...
Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on February 11, 2014 11:30 am
It says "educators" - not teachers. Educators include school superintendents, college professors, college administrators (e.g. Univ of Penn pays Gutman over $2 million), school principals, etc. Sure, lump in administrators and 440 staff and the average salary goes up. Classroom teachers, are not making 6 figures in Philly. (Lower Merion, Radnor, Council Rock, etc - yes; Philly - no) Some of us "educators" still live in a row house in a non-gentrified area of Philly. Do I hope to pay off a mortgage someday? Sure. If you want to see real money in the public sector, look at the governor's staff, the head of Phila. School Partnership and other "non-profits," members of Congress, etc. Go after their perks and salaries. They aren't paying for their own copying, paper and other people's kids to have the basics needed in school.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 11, 2014 12:49 pm
From one rowhouse living TEACHER to another, thank you for making it plain Linda K.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 15, 2014 9:10 pm
It should also be noted that a smart person making $50,000 who saves can become a millionaire while the person making $200,000 and blowing it all might not.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 16, 2014 8:08 am
It should be noted that anyone who says that a person making $50,000 can become a millionaire is not a smart person.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 10, 2014 8:52 pm
It is a disgrace that any of these union "negotiators" would even think about decreasing our salaries. Teachers and Principals have felt the brunt of this storm, and now we will take the biggest hit of all. Dr. Hite asks how to retain good teachers and good administrators? What do you think is going to happen? After retirements and "smart" employees jumping ship. What will you have left? A vacuum to be filled by Mark Gleason's crew? We are all in trouble. It is one thing bargaining for health care but then to take money on top of that, no way! We need to stand together and tell these clowns we will not accept any give back!
Submitted by anon (not verified) on February 11, 2014 4:38 am
you can't negotiate with these people because they refuse to recognize our value, dedication and hard work and insist there is no money - both are convenient mistruths to prop up a morally bankrupt "reform" movement. shut it down jerry. they need to appreciate that things actually could get worse…a lot worse.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 11, 2014 9:27 am
Exactly what will happen......it will be a shutdown.....a lockout when Green and the SRC impose ACT 46 on the teachers. Deborah Willig and Ralph Teti will then file with the US Supreme Court that ACT 46 be deemed unconstitutional. It will play out in the courts.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 11, 2014 9:28 pm
Imagine 2014
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 11, 2014 10:11 pm
Yeah, makes you wonder why they've never bothered to impose salary terms yet. Maybe because if they do, and lose in the courts (which from my reading of the act, they would), any leverage they have is gone. But they can keep the threat out there...does more good as a threat than an actual tactic to use.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 16, 2014 8:27 am
ACT 46 does NOT allow for salary terms. I wish people would remember this. They can only impose working conditions. THAT is why they haven't imposed salary terms.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 12, 2014 9:07 pm
Act 46 is unconstitutional and discriminatory against Philadelphia and that can only be tested if imposed.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 12, 2014 9:59 pm
I'm still waiting for somebody to quote from the act where it says the src can impose "salary" conditions. I only see that if it extends the day/yr, it doesn't have to add compensation in return. But nowhere do I see it saying it can decrease pay as it wishes, w/o regards to anything else.
Submitted by personal injury (not verified) on April 26, 2014 12:59 am
I am really impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself? Either way keep up the excellent quality writing, it is rare to see a nice blog like this one today.

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