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What gets cut, what gets spared

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

[Updated, 10:50 p.m.] The District’s just-released "Budget in brief," in a detailed section on expenditures, identifies a long list of areas where school budgets will be cut:

  • Operating budget allotments to schools cut 29 percent. These are funds provided to each school to purchase both "required" resources like principals and discretionary items like office staff. This is the biggest single expenditure reduction, totaling $61 million.
  • Kindergarten funding cut 43 percent. This $22 million cut will reduce the program to half-time at all schools.
  • Transportation cut 44 percent. Only special education and charter school transportation would continue. This is a $38.5 million cut that will affect 50,000 students.
  • Alternative education programs cut 50 percent. This will affect programs for over-age students and students with discipline problems. Also, the in-school suspension program will be reduced 62 percent.
  • Extended day program eliminated. Last year more than 11,000 students received afterschool instruction in math and literacy, with each school’s funding based on the number of students not scoring proficient on the state tests.
  • Vocational education cut 30 percent. These are funds used to increase offerings to students.
  • Extra teaching positions to reduce class size in grades K-3 cut 34 percent, which will result in an estimated average increase of three students per class. Teaching positions to reduce class size for grades 6, 8, and 9 are eliminated.
  • High-incidence special education staffing (Learning Support and Emotional Support) cut 5 percent. Special education liaison positions will be cut 77 percent.
  • Gifted and Talented Education cut 50 percent. The same number of students will receive these mandated services.
  • English language learner supports cut 20 percent. Changes include fewer bilingual teaching positions and the elimination of one of three Newcomer Learning Academies. Half the positions for bilingual counselor assistants will be eliminated.
  • Central office cut 50 percent, eliminating 430 positions.
  • Instrumental music cut 9 percent. Eight of 77 itinerant music teachers will be eliminated.
  • Early childhood programs cut 16 percent. The Bright Futures program will lose 730 pre-K slots and Comprehensive Early Learning Centers another 216 slots.
  • Common planning time and A/B schedules in comprehensive high schools eliminated.
  • Other Imagine 2014 initiatives that are being eliminated include school-based instructional specialists, Reading Recovery teachers, and Empowerment Support teachers in Empowerment Schools, as well as the weighted student funding pilot.

What gets spared:

  • The District will continue to stay within class size maximums of 30 in grades K-3 and 33 in the higher grades. Prep time teachers, also mandated by the teachers’ contract, will be preserved. Chief Financial Officer Michael Masch said enrollment-based teacher allotments to schools followed the same rules as in prior years.
  • Title I funding for schools will be "held harmless."
  • Three key Imagine 2014 initiatives will be reduced by about one-third but maintained: the expansion of counselors, the class size reduction initiative in grades K-3, and summer programs.
  • The 16 Promise Academies were held harmless from the 29 percent cut in the operating budget allotment affecting all other schools. But their supplemental per student funding is being reduced from $430 per student to $215 per student.

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