Late Wednesday, the Philadelphia School District announced that 16% of the district’s 24,000 employees . . . or 3,820 positions might be eliminated. The district has a shortfall of $629 million and estimates they will need to severely reduce the work force to meet the deficit. A budget for the district must be approved by the end of May and the clock is ticking.
If Gov. Corbett’s proposed budget is passed, Philadelphia School District stands to lose $292 million in state funding – representing close to a 10% reduction in the District’s overall funding. As a result, pink slips could go to hundreds of aides, custodians and central office staff, plus about 12 percent of the teachers. The school district will be forced to cut the workforce by 3,820, which includes 400 members of Central Office staff, 1,260 teachers, 650 aides, 430 custodians, 180 counselors and 51 nurses. The district also plans to increase class sizes and curb spending on transportation, special education, summer school, arts, music and sports.
Some are forecasting that teacher cuts will be on the newer and probably younger teachers. On hearing the District announcement of massive teacher cuts, a friend forwarded me an email from a young Philly teacher. Sad words from a dedicated teacher:
This whole thing is so terribly sad. I am a new teacher in fear of being laid off. In view of the circumstances, it may be likely that I will not ever be called back for my job.
Like many other teachers, I put my heart and soul into my job. No expense was ever too great for my students. I feel like I did not even get a chance to prove myself in becoming an even better teacher. My heart goes out to all teachers in fear of losing their jobs. I wish they would let us know so that we can try to make sense out of this and try to cope with this.
I feel like my heart has been ripped out, and I have been robbed of true happiness in doing what I love. I wish everyone the best—including the new teachers who probably will be the first to go.
In addition to the major reduction in the workforce, the District is looking for $75 million in budget help to come from teacher union concessions. As to be expected, union membership feels that they have given enough . . . collectively, the teacher’s are saying, “they do feel the pain!”
We learned this week from Harrisburg that the state school voucher program is inching forward again and discussions are continuing on proposed legislation that permits furloughing of teachers for ‘economic reasons’.. The teacher pension crisis continues to underscore the severity of the current economic situation. In the morning news, it is reported that New Jersey’s unfunded pension liability stands at $53.8 billion, the fourth highest in the country.
Does this news from Philadelphia School District have any significance for local school districts?