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Philly District adopts new financial plan; assumes slower charter growth

Photo: Bas Slabbers | NewsWorks WHYY

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

To maintain the same "insufficient" progams being offered this year, the Philadelphia School District says it will need an additional $30 million in new, recurring revenues for next school year.

By 2018-19, the District says it’ll need an additional $152 million to avoid cutting back even further.

Presenting the District’s five-year plan at a School Reform Commission Meeting on Thursday evening, Superintendent William Hite explained that this is the District’s minimal request.

"Expenditures included in this plan are sufficient to keep schools open, but with far too few resources. It is a plan that does not meet the needs of all students," Hite said in the report. "It merely represents the District’s commitment to live within its means."

To actually create a school system where every student has "access to a quality education," Hite says the District really needs $309 million next year, and $913 million by 2018-19.

With that kind of money, Hite says the District could ensure that "all students graduate college- and career-ready; all 8-year-olds read on grade level; and all schools have great principals and teachers."

To meet this "transformative" funding commitment, the District is asking for $103 million from city and $206 million from the state.

Under this scenario, in the last year of the five-year plan, the District would ask for $304 million from the city and $608 million from the state.

These specific requests are coming much earlier in the budget process compared to previous years. Chief Financial Officer Matthew Stanski says the District hopes to give Mayor Nutter, City Council, and Gov.-elect Tom Wolf adequate time to consider the District’s needs.

If the District received its full "transformative" request for next year, its budget would be about $2.9 billion. In fiscal year 2011, the District’s budget was $2.8 billion.

After hearing a presentation from Stanski, the School Reform Commission approved the five-year plan by unanimous vote.

The District’s previous five-year financial plan was approved in September 2012, shortly after Hite assumed the top job.

Since then, the District executed a series of austerity measures that Hite says have put school finances on more stable ground, including: closing 24 schools, reducing central office spending to less than 3 percent of the District’s operating budget, and laying off 5,000 employees.

"The toll that many of these actions is taking on our students, families, and staff is profound," wrote Hite.

"We can’t continue to cut our way to solvency," said Stanski.

Read the rest of this story at NewsWorks

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