This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
District officials will not comment, but staff from central office departments tell the Notebook that some School District departments have been ordered to make 3 percent budget cuts to address the District’s budget gap, estimated to be $160 million or more.
It is not clear whether the 3 percent reduction is an across-the-board cut to the operating budgets of central office departments, or whether some departments have been exempted from this round of cuts.
The Notebook has so far heard no reports of proposed budget cuts at schools.
District spokesperson Fernando Gallard would not comment specifically on the 3 percent figure, saying "We’ll be giving more specifics about where the District stands next Wednesday, and details on how the District will handle any shortage of funds resulting from the state budget."
Chief Business Officer Michael Masch is expected to present a budget update to the School Reform Commission on Wednesday, October 14, which also is the swearing in of two new commissioners, Joseph Dworetzky and David Girard-diCarlo.
Budget-watchers are anxiously awaiting a budget analysis from Masch about how much of the budget gap can be closed by halting new spending initiatives scheduled for this school year and how much will have to come from cutting existing programs and staff.
Central office expenditures are a tiny fraction of overall District spending. The District’s budget for central office administrative support is just over $100 million in a budget of $3 billion, so a 3 percent cut to those offices would net only about $3 million. The District spends another $355 million on "school operations," including facilities, transportation, and security, areas that are a likely target for budget cuts.
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