This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
by Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks
Facing a $304 million budget gap, Philadelphia School District Superintendent William Hite has asked for an assurance by Friday that the district will receive an additional $50 million.
If this money comes through, he has said that schools will open on time, but staffing levels will be only "functional."
Some principals, as well as home and school associations, have taken it upon themselves to ask parents to help make up the difference by opening their checkbooks.
Last week, up against a $355,740 budget shortfall for his individual school, Greenfield Elementary principal Dan Lazar sent parents an "urgent request," asking families to contribute $613 per student.
"This money is not coming from the city right now, and we had to at least make the ask," he wrote.
Lazar stipulated that a donation was not a requirement.
"We never said this was a mandatory thing. We never said that people had to do it. It was an ask. It was a request, and that those who were able to, we appreciate it," he said. "And those who can’t, we completely understand."
But even if not mandatory, this "ask" raised the ire of many who closely watch the trends in Philly’s public education system.