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School District passes an austere – but hopeful – budget

Photo: Laura Bensfoff/WHYY

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

With a final budget from Harrisburg missing in action, the Philadelphia School District adopted its own budget just before the final deadline.

At a relatively brief School Reform Commission meeting, the District’s chief financial officer, Matthew Stanski, laid out the budget’s premise: "We will need at least $18 million from the state in order to maintain, as we like to say, the inadequate, status quo budget levels that our schools are currently operating under."

That $18 million would be additional state funds over last year’s funding level. Combined with an anticipated $70 million bump-up in Philadelphia’s local contribution, the District would just be able to plug its $88 million deficit for next year.

As Stanski’s language indicated, that amount is equivalent to scraping by. So the District included a hopeful clause in its budget that eases the way for the state to decide to make a larger investment.

In a section marked "additional resources," the District includes a line item of $141,332,200 in added state revenues. That money can only be tapped, according to the budget, when "the appropriate legislative bodies authorize and appropriate new and additional resources for The School District of Philadelphia."

That additional amount would provide the city schools the full amount called for by Gov. Wolf’s budget, a total of $159 million. The $18 million "status quo" figure corresponds roughly to how much Philadelphia would get from the GOP-backed budget passed by the House and Senate but vetoed by Wolf.

Read this story at NewsWorks

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