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Philly educators cautious, optimistic as new year begins

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

Philadelphia School District students will arrive for the first day of classes Tuesday morning.

Educators are cautiously optimistic about the new year, but worries remain as classrooms citywide continue to feel the effects of budget constraints in recent years.

Pennsylvania’s Gov. Wolf has forwarded a budget plan that would drastically increase school resources statewide, but he and the Republicans who control the legislature have yet to finalize a deal.

"I’m extremely anxious about the fact we still don’t have a state budget," said Marjorie Neff, chair of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission. "And we’re going to start yet another year without adequate resources in schools."

Teachers echoed that sentiment.

"The thing that maybe is most scary is people are getting used to this — this deep, deep austerity, this deeply cruel system," said Feltonville School of Arts & Sciences teacher Amy Roat. "I guess, for your sanity, you have to keep going, but it’s still an unacceptable situation."

Charlie McGeehan teaches in North Philly at the U School, which strives to develop an individualized curriculum for each student.

"How do we create a school that’s designed for students when we have so many students and so few staff members to do the work that we need to do?" McGeehan asked.

In order to start the year without a state budget in place, the Philadelphia School District had to borrow $275 million to meet payroll. The loan will require an additional interest payment of about $1 million.

The District will also delay payments to its larger vendors. These actions will only get Philly public schools through the first two months of classes.

Read the rest of this story at NewsWorks

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