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Superintendent Hite talks about upcoming school year on ‘Radio Times’

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

On WHYY-FM’s Radio Times today, Superintendent William Hite discussed what lies ahead for the District as schools open amid an ongoing fiscal crisis.

With the callback of staff that is now in the works, Hite said, 1,600 of the nearly 4,000 laid-off staff are being rehired. He said the $83 million in funding commitments that have been secured this summer allow him to open "functional schools." But he acknowledged that many schools will no longer have guidance counselors, assistant principals, or other critical staff positions.

Hite said that the restoration of staff was based on three criteria: school size, the grade levels served, and whether schools are among those receiving students from closing schools.

He said that he is looking to concessions from the District’s labor unions to free up additional funds for schools — as well as seeking additional revenues. The central office has already been slashed, he said, making it "by percentage, probably the smallest administration in the country" in relation to the number of students served.

Out of a $2.3 billion budget, Hite noted that $1.1 billion goes to debt service payments and charter schools. He said the District does have to restrict charter school expansion.

"If we, willy-nilly, add seats and are unable to manage that, we lose the ability to have quality options in the schools remaining in the District," he said.

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