This piece is from our October edition focused on school funding.
Philadelphia has no shortage of critics, particularly in the Pennsylvania legislature, who are eager to argue that city schools don’t deserve additional funds. The last thing that District officials want to do is to give these critics ammunition. That makes the job of overseeing Philadelphia’s $3.2 billion schools budget a high-stakes task.
Despite promises for greater transparency, this month’s School Reform Commission meeting continues a troubling trend in “contract ratification,” the approval of contracts after the work is underway or, in some cases, already completed.
Fourteen of the 43 contract-related resolutions – one-third – on today’s SRC docket are ratifications (this number does not count resolutions that accept grants or approve policies).
The District's budget is still balanced despite recent state funding cutbacks, Chief Financial Officer Michael Masch told the SRC Wednesday - mostly thanks to the August adoption of a federal education jobs bill that will send $98 million to Philadelphia.
The School Reform Commission approved a budget for 2010-11 today that assumes $148 million in additional revenue from the state and federal government, allowing for the continuation and expansion of the District's Imagine 2014 strategic plan.
In sparsely attended City Council hearings on the 2010-11 School District budget Monday, Superintendent Arlene Ackerman and Chief Business Officer Michael Masch said that District administrative and operational costs have already been cut by $76 million, but would be cut deeper if Gov. Rendell's proposed education funding increase for school districts is not fully funded.
If you have an appetite for numbers, you might want to dig into the District's 431-page budget book, just posted on the District's website in time for upcoming City Council hearings next Monday and Tuesday at City Hall. Several other public meetings on the budget are scheduled, including one tonight at King H.S.
Unlike districts across the country that are grappling with teacher layoffs and harsh cutbacks, the School District of Philadelphia, in its $3.2 billion draft budget for 2010-11 released Wednesday, projects a third consecutive year of new and expanded offerings.