This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Chief Business Officer Michael Masch on Wednesday downplayed the impact of the $180 million shortfall in state funding – and the resulting cuts – on the pending contract negotiations with the teachers’ union and other bargaining units.
He also downplayed the possibility of raises this school year for Philadelphia teachers, who are generally paid less than those in surrounding districts.
He did point to tremendous uncertainty about what will happen to District revenue in future years, given that the recently adopted state budget cut the state’s own contribution toward the basic education subsidy to school districts. The state is relying on federal stimulus dollars to backfill this year and presumably next. Without stimulus dollars in 2011, it will be a challenge for the state even to maintain this year’s funding levels.
In an interview following the SRC meeting, Masch pointed to a statement in the District’s "Budget in Brief" document stating that the current budget provides only for "mandated step increases" and for "the annualization of raises received during 2008-09," and that "No other wage increases are assumed in the FY2009-10 budget proposal."
"That’s still true," Masch said. "It was true in April and it’s true today."
"It shouldn’t change the dynamic in that we never had money for raises and we still don’t," he continued. "There have been several contracts in the past where there was no wage increase in the first year. This is a year in which major urban school districts are laying off staff and we are not."
"We think there are a lot of pro-teacher things in this budget," Masch added.
He pointed to Imagine 2014 initiatives like reduced class size, more counselors, in-school suspension programs, alternative programs, and new teacher coaches. "All are intended to improve the quality of experience of teachers in the classroom."
"Teachers are obviously concerned about their own compensation, but the union’s been very clear that they’re concerned about working conditions as well," Masch said.